Big Happenings for Our Neighbors to the North

There’s big news brewing on the Canadian Beer Front, according to today’s Winnipeg Sun, A new deal between Fort Garry Brewing (Manitoba’s largest brewer and distributor) and British Columbia-based Russel Brewering will result in,

“More Manitoba jobs, new beer brands on Winnipeg shelves, and possibly a larger regional profile for Manitoba-made beer,”

Russell’s CEO told the Sun.

Fort Garry shareholders voted last night to accept a friendly takeover of the Winnipeg-based beer maker in a deal reportedly worth between $3.5 and $4 million.

Russell Breweries CEO Brian Harris said the fact most Fort Garry shareholders opted for a stock swap rather than a 40-cent-per-share payout proves investors have a lot of confidence in the new, larger company that now has brewing facilities in Winnipeg and Surrey, B.C.

Harris said the Winnipeg plant capacity will be increased from the 35% it’s running at now to between 70 and 90% over the next year, which will increase jobs at the Linden Woods plant. The facility will continue to brew Fort Garry and Two Rivers brands, and will begin brewing Russell’s brands too. Harris told reporters,

“The product that’s brewed (in Winnipeg) is “fantastically good beer.”

The B.C. company’s flagship beer is Russell Cream Ale. It also brews lager, pale ale and blond beer, all of which it hopes to sell in all the western provinces. Russell is now conducting research to see how widely to sell the Fort Garry brands, said Harris. Russell also currently holds the exclusive right to sell beer at B.C. Lions CFL games in Vancouver.

Harris said beer buyers in Manitoba can expect Russell products to appear on vendor shelves here during the first few months of 2008.

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