Dow Breweries

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Dow Breweries was a brewery based in the province of Quebec, Canada. The company was founded in Montreal by William Dow (1800–1868).[1] Its brewery in Quebec City was formed in 1952 in the facilities formerly used by the Boswell Brewery (1843–1952).[2] It was acquired by Carling O'Keefe and stopped its activities on March 31, 1966.[3] After the purchase by Carling O'Keefe, the Dow brand came under the ownership of Molson, but disappeared from the Canadian market in the spring of 1997. Brands brewed by Dow included Dow Ale, Kingsbeer Lager and Black Horse Ale.

At the urging of Board chair and academic Pierre Gendron, Dow Breweries supported the construction of the Montreal Planetarium, originally calling it "Dow Planetarium". It was completed in 1966 as one of many projects for the Canadian Centennial.

Downfall of the brewery[edit]

In August 1965, a patient presented to a hospital in Quebec City with symptoms suggestive of alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Over the next 8 months 50 more cases with similar findings appeared in the same area with 20 of these being fatal. It was noted that all patients were heavy drinkers who mostly drank beer and preferred the Dow brand, 30 out of those consuming more than 6 liters (12 pints) of beer per day.[4] Epidemiological studies found that Dow had been adding cobalt sulfate to the beer for foam stability since July 1965 and that the concentration added in the Quebec city brewery was 10 times that of the same beer brewed in Montreal where there were no reported cases.[5][6]

Although Dow denied any responsibility, the Dow Brewery in Quebec City temporarily shut down and the remaining beer was dumped into the Saint Lawrence River. At the time of the incident, Dow Ale was the number one selling beer in Quebec; however, as a result of the "tainted beer scandal" sales of the brand soon dropped dramatically never to recover.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Daniel Coulombe; Sara Richard. "Le Mythe de la bière Dow". BièreMag Online (in French).
  2. ^ "The History of Beer in Quebec City". L'Inox Maîtres Brasseurs. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2009-10-22.
  3. ^ Closing of activities of Dow Breweries, March 1966 (French)
  4. ^ Y. L. Morin; A. R. Foley; G. Martineau; J. Roussel (1967). "Quebec beer-drinkers' cardiomyopathy: forty-eight cases". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 97: 881–883. PMC 1923396. PMID 6051256.
  5. ^ Morin Y, Tětu A, Mercier G (1969). "Quebec beer-drinkers' cardiomyopathy: Clinical and hemodynamic aspects]". Ann N Y Acad Sci. 156: 566–576. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1969.tb16751.x. PMID 5291148.
  6. ^ "How Quebec beer and TV's Dr. House solved a medical mystery". CBC News. February 6, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  7. ^ Sneath, Allen Winn (2001). Brewed in Canada: The Untold Story of Canada's 350-Year-Old Brewing Industry. Dundurn Press Ltd. ISBN 1550023640.