Beloved brew discontinued by Molson Coors Standard Lager drinkers will soon no longer be able to cry in their beer

Standard Lager, a beer sold almost exclusively to Manitoban drinkers, is being discontinued this fall.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/05/2022 (249 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Standard Lager, a beer sold almost exclusively to Manitoban drinkers, is being discontinued this fall.

The beer was first brewed in 1926 by Winnipeg’s Drewry’s Brewery, but has since fallen into the fold of the Molson-Coors conglomerate, which confirmed the lager’s impending tap-out to the Free Press Monday morning.

“The Standard Lager beer remains available to consumers for the time being, until September that is,” wrote Frederic Bourgeois-LeBlanc, a spokesperson for Molson Coors. Asked what happens after September, he wrote, “It is discontinued.”

Rumours of Standard’s final pour have swirled for quite some time, reaching an apex earlier this year when social media posts proclaimed an end to the beer’s long reign. Those posts triggered an outcry from fans of the beer, described by Molson Coors as a “lager of established quality, long favoured for its mellow, satisfying flavour.”

John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

Local beer industry professionals say it’s been known for years that the niche Standard would eventually be cut from the Molson lineup, with the small population of Manitoba Standard drinkers not necessarily being a priority to the major brand. The pandemic, along with some supply issues, helped seal the deal, many suspect.

The beer was never exactly a major mover for local shops, but became a favourite at local concert venues and veterans’ establishments for its price point, availability, and – with decades of relatively unchanged flavour – its consistency.

Karen Lytwinuk, the bar manager at the John Osborn Army & Navy #1 on Ellice Avenue, first heard rumours of the end of Standard earlier this year. After that, she contacted a sales representative from Molson Coors, who confirmed the news, which came as a shock to some long-time imbibers.

One aficionado of the $4.25, five per cent alcohol content Standard has switched to Alexander Keith’s, and another has become a Michelob Ultra man, Lytwinuk said.

On the wall next to a rack of Old Dutch chips is a small poster explaining the move by the distributor.

“The decision wasn’t at all taken lightly, but to deliver against our ambitions we need to stay the course on our long-range plan which prioritizes a more focused strategy with premiumization as a key goal,” the poster reads. “By reallocating resources towards our power, scale, and innovation brands, we can drive meaningful growth for our company and customers.”

Standard Lager was first brewed in 1926 by Winnipeg’s Drewry’s Brewery. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

The poster also said that the last shipment date is September 2022, though many won’t believe the beer is officially discontinued until that date has passed, Standard having beaten the odds before. The beer is currently listed as out of stock on the provincial Liquor Mart website. There is still a healthy supply at some independent shops, including the Quality Inn craft beer market, whose manager Chris Hiebert encourages Standard sippers to switch their affinities to a local brew to keep the memory of a once-locally produced beer alive. Hiebert says the shops have acquired some Standard swag for a giveaway in the coming months.

At the John Osborn Army & Navy, Standard hasn’t been available for months and the distributor has told Lytwinuk there won’t be more on the way, much to some regulars’ chagrin.

“I have one guy in his sixties who’s been drinking Standard since he was 18 years old,” she said Monday, while a different man sipped coffee at the bartop while watching an old Robert Mitchum military movie. “Poor guy.” He switched to Molson Canadian.

ben.waldman@winnipegfreepress.com

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Ben Waldman

Ben Waldman
Reporter

Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.

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