Brewed in the North

A History of Labatt's

Tracing the evolution of Canada's Labatt brewery from its colonial beginnings until its sale to Belgium-based Interbrew.


For decades, the name Labatt was synonymous with beer in Canada, but no longer. Brewed in the North traces the birth, growth, and demise of one of the nation’s oldest and most successful breweries. Opening a window into Canada’s complicated relationship with beer, Matthew Bellamy examines the strategic decisions taken by a long line of Labatt family members and professional managers from the 1840s, when John Kinder Labatt entered the business of brewing in the Upper Canadian town of London, to the globalization of the industry in the 1990s.


"Brewed in the North will find a welcome home on the bookshelf of anyone interested in history, economics, business and advertising, Canadian identity, or beer and brewing. Matthew Bellamy takes a deep dive into the history of Labatt's brewery, and in so doing also discusses the shape and scope of business practices, life, and culture in pre- and post-Confederation Canada. " American Review of Canadian Studies

"Brewed in the North is a rare achievement, for in addition to being a superb scholarly monograph it also serves as a practical introduction to the study of business history generally, and the brewing industry specifically … When contextualizing Labatt's story, Bellamy provides concise insights into an assortment of concepts foundational to business history, including brand development and marketing, product differentiation, corporate public relations, multidivisional organizational structures, industry consolidations, brownfield and greenfield expansion strategies, the impact of government regulation, and globalization. " Canadian Historical Review

"This finely crafted study is a brilliant piece of Canadian business history. Brewed in the North goes beyond Labatt's to provide a study of a whole industry within Canada and abroad. The book is chock-full of fascinating information on the evolving processes of making beer, the marketing of the firm's products, and strategies for survival in a highly controversial industry. " Craig Heron, York University

"Brewed in the North is a striking story, and Bellamy tells it well. He has a command of business history but does not beat us over the head with theory or complete marketing lingo. The book is an impressive achievement. " Literary Review of Canada

"Brewed in the North is probably the most comprehensive look at Labatt's past. Anyone who enjoys learning about corporate decision-making, the people behind the decisions and their successes and missteps will enjoy this book. The author struck gold by landing on a treasure trove of previously unpublished corporate documents and a detail-rich history of Labatt that it had commissioned from historian Albert Tucker. " The Globe & Mail

"Matthew Bellamy [. ..] has produced a first-rate study of the rise and fall of a Canadian brewing giant. [Brewed in the North] grants well deserved scholarly recognition to the Canadian brewing industry, which until very recently was a realm left largely to non-professional historians. Raise a glass. Bellamy's superbly readable study was worth the wait. " Canadian Business History Association

"Brewed in the North makes for a top choice for beer lovers. Best enjoyed with a six-pack of underrated 50 fresh from the brewery, I'd say. " The London Free Press

"Bellamy's narrative encompasses far more than the history of a single firm, covering the development of the industry as a whole, its social impact, controversies during the Prohibition era, and the effects of globalization [. ..] This synopsis of Bellamy's book does not do justice to the rich details he provides on the personalities, clashes inside the boardroom, and the impact of changing technologies and social mores on the industry [. ..] this is a significant contribution to the history of business in Canada. " Ontario History