Carling brewery

For the township in Ontario, see Carling, Ontario.
Industry Brewing
Founded 1840 - London, Ontario, Canada
Headquarters Canada
Products Beer
Owner Molson Coors Brewing Company - since 2005

Carling brewery was founded in London, Ontario, Canada in 1818. In 1952 Carling lager was first sold in the United Kingdom; in the early 1980s it became the UK's most popular beer brand (by volume sold). The company changed hands numerous times; it was acquired by Canadian Breweries Limited, which was eventually renamed Carling O'Keefe, which merged with Molson, which then merged with Coors to form Molson Coors Brewing Company. In South Africa the Carling brands are distributed by SABMiller.


The history of Carling dates back to 1818, when Thomas Carling, a farmer from the English county of Yorkshire, and his family settled in eastern Canada, at what is now the city of London, Ontario. He brewed an ale which became popular, and eventually took up brewing full-time. The first Carling brewery had two kettles, a horse to turn the grinding mill and six men to work on the mash tubs, and Carling sold his beer on the streets of London, Ontario from a wheelbarrow.

In 1840 Carling began a small brewing operation in London, selling beer to soldiers at the local camp. In 1878 his sons, John and William, built a six-storey brewery in London, which was destroyed by fire a year after opening. Thomas Carling, shortly after helping to fight the fire, died of pneumonia.

William and John took over the company, naming it the W & J Carling Brewing Co. John Carling died in 1911 and the company changed hands numerous times since. It was acquired by Canadian Breweries Limited, which was eventually renamed Carling O'Keefe, which merged with Molson, which then merged with Coors to form Molson Coors Brewing Company.

In the 1950s Carling was first sold in the UK; it became the UK's most popular beer brand (by volume sold) in the early 1980s.

UK sales in 1999 were one billion pints, in 2007 2.3 billion pints (over six billion worldwide), in 2009 4.1 billion pints (11.6 billion pints worldwide), in 2010 17.6 billion pints worldwide, in 2011 24.9 billion pints worldwide.

The largest pub chain in the UK, J D Wetherspoon, stopped selling Carling in September 2009, entering into a seven-year exclusive deal with the Danish brewery Carlsberg. From Q1 2011 Amstel, Carling, Heineken and Staropramen were again sold by Wetherspoons, at higher prices than Carlsberg.


Carling sponsored English football's FA Premier League from its second season in 1993 until 2001, and the Reading and Leeds festivals from between 1998 and 2007. Carling are the official beer of the Scotland national football team, and in 2010 and 2011 were the sponsors of the Scottish Cup. In 2012, Carling ended their nine-year sponsorship of the Football League Cup, then called the Carling Cup. As of 2013 they sponsored Northern Ireland's IFA Premiership. Carling sponsored the two leading Scottish football clubs, Celtic and Rangers, from 2003 to 2010.[1][2]

Carling was a major sponsor of live music in the UK, sponsoring the Academy Music Group venues (including Brixton Academy), until replaced by O2.

In 1927, Carling offered a $25,000 prize for the first Canadian or British pilot to fly from London, Ontario to London, England. This was done just after Lindbergh had made his successful flight. The pilot, Terrence Tully, and James Medcalf the navigator made the attempt in a Stinson SM-1. The plane took off on August 29, 1927, but soon turned back due to heavy fog. Their second attempt a few days later brought them to Newfoundland, from which on September 7 they headed for London, England. After two days had passed with no sighting of them, it was assumed they were lost at sea.[3]


Black Label

Main article: Carling Black Label

Carling Black Label is the name of a brand of Canadian lager in Australia, Canada, and South Africa. In the Ireland and the United Kingdom the same beer has been sold as Carling (without 'black label') since 1997. In Sweden it is known as Carling Premier.

Black Label is a brand of beer well known throughout the former British Empire, where it was known for its slogan "Hey Mabel, Black Label!" The most famous slogan for this product was, "I bet he drinks Carling Black Label!" which was a reworking of an unsold campaign for the UK Milk Marketing Board, "I bet he drinks milk!"[4] In several countries it is also known as Carling Black Label. Black Label has the slang/street name of Zamalek in South Africa, because of an association with the Egyptian football club of the name which shares the colours black, white and red.

The SAB's brand Carling Black Label won Monde Selection's Grand Gold Award in 2008.[5]

Other brand history

WCRS produced television and cinema adverts for Carling Premier. Carling Premier adverts used unusual cinematography. Film director Wim Wenders shot one advert in Iceland with actors Bryan Carney and Rebecca Godwin, showing Carney riding a bicycle on a highwire over a waterfall; it cost over £1 million. In 1996 Carling Premier used Gary Numan's 1979 song "Cars", and sponsored his tour of that year.


  1. "Celtic". Historical Football Kits. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  2. "Rangers". Historical Football Kits. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  3. Linn's Stamp News, January 2015
  4. "Is this the secret formula for creating sustained marketing success?". Invisible Brand Blog. Archived from the original on 28 September 2009.
  5. "SAB - Local brews scoop seven major international awards". Archived from the original on 16 January 2014.

External links

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