Canada: Molson Coors to relocate oldest brewery in North America

Molson Coors announced plans to close its 231-year-old brewery in downtown Montreal and build a new one nearby. The decision was made after a two-year study found out that building a new plant will be more efficient than updating the existing operations. However, the brewer intends to maintain a microbrewery and store at the 231-year-old site near Old Montreal. The rest of the site will be sold for redevelopment. Initial reports suggested the new brewery would cost about C$500 million to build, but a spokesman of the brewery said it would be probably less.

The location of the new site has not yet been selected. "For sure it will not be in downtown Montreal because there is no land. We're looking for a green field. That could be on the Montreal island or that could be also around Montreal, in the suburbs of Montreal on the South Shore or North Shore," said François Lefebvre, director of corporate affairs for Molson Coors Canada.

Molson Coors and the Molson family in particular are interested to commemorate Molson’s heritage at its original location, which is the oldest and still operating brewing site in North America.

Being an orphan, the founder of the company, John Molson emigrated in 1782 at the age of 18 from England to Canada. He settled in Montreal and started working at the Thomas Loyd brewery, which he could purchase in an auction in 1784 with money he inherited from his parents. In 1785 he returned to Europe in search of brewery equipment and seeds, which he later offered farmers for free to satisfy the brewery’s need for malt. In 1786 he delivered his first brew at the location, which is used up to date to brew beer.

“For sure, we will keep something to celebrate the Molson family and our heritage in Montreal and in Quebec. We are committed to Montreal, and the site is really important for us. We will be looking into the details in the coming weeks and months,” Lefebvre said.

Frederic Landtmeters, president and CEO of Molson Coors Canada also confirmed: “The Montreal brewery is an emblem and this historic site will be an invaluable legacy for the city.”

The relocation of Molson Coors’ Montreal site follows another announcement from May for the relocation of Molson Coors’ Vancouver B.C. brewery (inside.beer, 8.5.2017).Molson Coors closed a deal in early 2016 to sell for C$185 million its existing three-hectare brewery site in Vancouver B.C. to a developing company. Production continues at the nearly 60 year old brewery under a lease agreement until construction of a new C$200-million brewery in Chilliwack, British Columbia, 100km west of Vancouver B.C. will be finished.

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