LONDON, ON – In a move that appears to mirror one planned by sibling company Anheuser-Busch in the United States, Labatt Breweries has started offering new beers in a number of cities across Canada named for local telephone area codes.
As reported on 8-Bit Beer Blog, the A-B initiative started soon after the company purchased Chicago’s Goose Island Brewery in March of this year. Goose Island’s popular 312 Urban Wheat Ale, named for Chicago’s main area code, inspired the parent company to start submitting trademark applications for beer names based on area codes from across the U.S., including 704 (Charlotte, N.C.), 216 (Cleveland), 215 (Philadelphia), 412 (Pittsburgh) and many others.
While none of these American codes appear to have been used for a beer yet, Labatt has begun to quietly roll out area code brews on draught in several Canadian cities, including 604 (Vancouver), 250 (rest of B.C.), 403 (Calgary), 780 (Edmonton), 519 (London) and 613 (Ottawa).
Tasting notes for 519 Lager and 613 Lager have been posted to the respective product listings on The Beer Store wesbite:
519 Lager – Crafted exclusively for London, 519 is a wonderful combination of smooth taste and deep flavour. Its special blend of malts and generous addition of Saaz European hops, give it a beautiful colour, malty smoothness, rich pilsner taste and aroma.
613 Lager – This Ottawa-inspired beer celebrates a complex blend of flavours. Amber coloured with a creamy head, 613 has a mix of malted barley varieties and a combination of American and European hops, giving this Lager a full, smooth taste with a crisp finish.
These descriptions suggest that a different beer is being developed exclusively for each city, although the tasting notes are vague enough that it’s unclear if this is truly the case, or if the same beer is being rebranded for different locations.
It’s also interesting to note that Labatt will likely be unable to offer a similar beer in Toronto, as Amsterdam Brewery is already producing 416 Urban Wheat, which was itself inspired by the same Goose Island beer that triggered the Labatt project.