Is Canadian beer stronger in Canada than in the USA?

by | Beer




When I first read the reader’s comment I thought, here we go again.  I’ve written about how Canadian beers are not stronger than American beers (when you compare the macro brews), but the reader’s claim was slightly different.  This claim is Canadian beers are stronger in Canada than they are in the United States, specifically Labatts.  Not believing this claim, I wrote to Molson, Moosehead, and Labatt’s.

Note: I am not including 3.2 beer.  We all know too well that 3.2 beer is weaker than regular beer by about 1% ABV.  (3.2% ABW ≈ 4.0% ABV)

Molson

If there was going to be a beer with a difference in alcohol content, I thought it might be with Molson.  They have several versions of their beer.  I saw on an old alcohol content list on the internet which stated there was a difference in Molson Golden.  According to Molson, there is no difference in their beers.  Cristina S. Docouto from Molson Customer Service Representative states, “The alcohol content in our beers are the same for both the USA and Canada. the only difference that comes into play is the different sizes of the containers.”

Moosehead

Moosehead Breweries is Canada’s largest and oldest independent brewer.  The brewery was founded by Susanna Oland in 1867, and is still owned by the Oland family.  Phil St. Thomas, Consumer Affairs Coordinator for Moosehead, had this to say about their beer sold in the United States.  “Moosehead Lager and Moosehead Light are the only two brands that we offer in the USA. In certain States where the ABV is regulated by law and requires a lower ABV than we produce, yes we do comply with those laws and reduce our ABV. In the States where our ABV is accepted, there is no need for us to reduce the ABV, therefore we do not do so. In other words, we only reduce the alcohol content in our beer if it is required by local laws.”

The only places where the law might require lowering the alcohol content for Moosehead is states which have 3.2 laws.  Alabama’s laws cap beer at 6% ABV, but Moosehead is 5% ABV.  There are 3.2 states, but you can purchase the full strength version in all states.  So there is no difference in Moosehead beer found in the two countries.

Are the Canadian beers watered down in the USA? No.

Labatt’s

Labatt’s is the surprise of the group.  In the past, there was no difference in Labatt’s between the two countries.  This apparently has changed due to today’s face-plant economic conditions.  Norma from Labatt Customer Service said there is a difference in the alcohol content, but it’s a recent change.  She stated, “Recently we have changed the alcohol content in Labatt’s Blue to 4.7% by volume in the USA compared to 5% by volume in Canada.  This small change will result in a substantial cost savings for the company.”  So in Labatt’s Blue, there is a slight difference of 0.3% ABV.  The other Labatt offerings have no difference in alcohol content.

It’s the same beer

While Labatt’s Blue has a lower alcohol content in the United States, I don’t think you can claim all beers from Canada are weaker in the United States without cherry picking your data.  The Labatt’s change is a recent change, and other major Canadian beers have no difference in alcohol content. Eh.


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DJ Spiess

DJ Spiess

Beer buddy

I live in Denver, Colorado. This blog is everything about beer, wine, cider, mead and other spirits.
I am a avid homebrewer and winemaker. I’ve been making my own beer and wine for many years. I started making beer when I was in college (mostly because the drinking age in the United States is 21). My first few beers were horrible. The beers are much better now, and I often supply my neighborhood with free beer! It is a great hobby!