Emptying the beer fridge

Cigdem Iltan
Photo: Cindy Wilson/Telegraph-Journal Archive March 12 2009 Launch of N.B. Liquor new Beer at Parkway mall outlet Saint John.
Emptying the beer fridge
Tara Brautigam/CP

It’s last call for drinkers of Canada’s only government-brand beer. The New Brunswick liquor board, which created Selection Lager and Selection Light in March 2009 in response to lagging domestic beer sales and cross-border competition, has stopped production of the private-label beers. Selection Light wasn’t meeting the minimum sales cut-off of 100,000 litres per year, says board spokeswoman Nora Lacey. Selection Lager met the sales cut-off, but because the beers were marketed together, the board decided to stop sales of both brews to make space in its cold rooms for different products. “It’s all peformance based; we have to look at our own brands in the same light and take the appropriate action,” says Lacey.

At $19.99 for 12 cans, Selection was a clear choice for New Brunswick’s wallet-conscious beer drinkers. But reviewers on seemed to agree that when it came to taste, drinkers got what they paid for: Selection Lager scored an average rating of 1.83/5, with one reviewer likening it to “water from a cheap plastic garden hose that’s been lying in the sun all afternoon.” Selection Light fared similarly, mustering up an average of 1.64/5 and comments that are far from ringing endorsements: “Pours a clear, pale, sickly urine yellow . . . probably the worst looking beer I’ve seen but merely pathetic otherwise.”

Lacey maintains that while Selection’s sales fizzled, both beers’ first year doubled expectations, with each boasting a one per cent market share. She turns to a recent overall decline in domestic beer sales across Canada as an explanation for its demise, rather than the particular taste of Selection’s suds.