Carling Brewery

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Founded1840 in London, Ontario, Canada
HeadquartersBurton upon Trent, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
OwnerMolson Coors Brewing Company (since 2005)

Carling brewery was founded by Thomas Carling in London, Ontario, Canada, in 1840. 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 Upper 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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. In 2016 they broke new records, selling 7.9 billion pints in the UK alone, with 83.6 billion pints world wide.

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.[citation needed]

In 2017, UK HMRC took Carling to the tax tribunal because it claimed the firm underpaid tax by more than £50 million between 1 September 2012 and 31 January 2015. But the firm won the case after it successfully argued the actual strength of the lager meant it should not be subject to the four per cent level of taxation. The lager is advertised as having an alcohol by volume (ABV) of four per cent but is actually brewed at 3.7 per cent, owners Molson Coors said. In the tribunal hearing brought by HMRC, the firm said the ABV was reduced in order to cut tax on Carling products as stronger beers are subject to higher taxes than lower-strength ones under UK excise duties. EU law permits beer to have a natural variation of 0.5 per cent and the owner insists it does not believe customers are being misled. According to papers from the tribunal, Philip Rutherford, vice president of Molson Coors Europe, told the tribunal the "key driver" behind the decision not to change the labelling on Carling's products was to prevent retailers, including pub chains and supermarkets, from demanding "a slice" of the savings.[7].


Carling were title sponsors of English football's Premier League from its second season in 1993 until 2001, returning as an official partner from 2016 to 2019 before being replaced by Budweiser, 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.[citation needed] 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]

In 1974, Carling sponsored a NASCAR car driven by Canadian short track driver Earl Ross and owned by former NASCAR driver Junior Johnson in what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Over the course of the season, Ross earned four top fives, nine top tens, and a single win at Martinsville Speedway en route to a ninth place finish in the points standings.


  • Carling Black Label is a beer sold in Canada and South Africa; it is the best-selling beer in South Africa.[citation needed] It has an alcohol content of 5% in Canada and 5.5% in South Africa.
  • Carling, formerly known as Carling Black Label, is a mass market lager in the United Kingdom with an alcohol content of 4.0%. Molson Coors marketing makes no reference to its Canadian origins, describing it as "British". # During trials v UK HMRC in 2017 Molson Coors revealed they reduced the ABV to 3.7% in 2012 but left the advertised ABV as 4%.
  • Carling Black Label Ice, or "Black Ice", is a strong, low-priced ice beer sold in Canada with an alcohol content of 6.1%; sold as Molson Ice in the United States using a variation of the Black Label Ice label and logo.
  • Carling Lager is a no-preservatives lager sold in Canada, distinct from Carling (Black Label).
  • Carling Ice is an ice-brewed product from the Carling line.
  • Carling Light is a lighter variation of Carling Lager.
  • Carling Premier is a cream-flow lager with an alcohol content of 4.7%, introduced to celebrate Carling's sponsorship of the FA Premier League in 1992. In cans it is sold with a nitrogen widget, similar to those used in some canned ales. Unlike most lagers, Premier needs time to settle.
  • Carling Extra Cold is a version sold in British pubs chilled to 2 °C, launched in 2002.
  • C2 is the low-alcohol version of Carling, with 2% alcohol by volume.
  • Carling Black Label Supreme is an inexpensive 8% alcohol brew.
  • Carling Black Label Big 10 has 10% alcohol content.
  • Carling Chrome is a bottled lager, brewed for a less bitter taste at 4.8% abv.
  • Carling Cider
  • Carling Zest is a 2.8% lager that has different flavors, including ginger and citrus.

Black Label[edit]

Carling Black Label is the name of a brand of Canadian lager in Australia, Canada, and South Africa. In 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[edit]

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.
  • Molson merges with Carling - CBC News: National, Broadcast Date: 18 January 1989; reporter Tom Kennedy
  • Rachel Roberts (27 August 2017). "Alcohol content of Carling weaker than advertised, owners tell tax tribunal". Independent.

External links[edit]