Had a question, on Unibroue, and wanted some plugged in Canucks opinions

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Smakawhat, May 6, 2014.

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  1. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Poo-Bah (7,083) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    I had a question on Unibroue, and I wanted to get some opinions from some Canucks who are probably more plugged in than myself, since I have emigrated.

    I am just trying to take the pulse of some beer fans, and of course this sub-forum provides I think a good position to do so.

    Unibroue, as I understand is owned (please feel to correct me if I am wrong) is owned (what %?) by Sapporo-Sleeman. With Sapporo being a Japanese brand.

    I am not familiar with what percentage they actually own perhaps @jesskidden could provide those answers, but my question for those Canadian beer (geeks, afficianados) etc.. is this.

    Do you still consider Unibroue a Canadian brewery?

    I'am interested in your opinions, not trying to stir up things, but I am curious what your thoughts are on this question.

    Perhaps there is no right or wrong answer to this, but I think it's an interesting discussion on the topic. I'am hoping to hear some things I hadn't heard before on the subject as well.

  2. Lurkaholic

    Lurkaholic Initiate (80) Jun 14, 2013 British Columbia (Canada)

    As a west coast transplant from elsewhere - I do, yes. They produce beer in Canada, they distribute to Canada, they product lineup hasn't been affected by their acquisition (IMO). Their profits may not stay in Canada, but to me that shouldn't factor into it as much as what they make, and where.

    Sleemans hosted a small industry party in Vancouver back in 2005 when they originally acquired Unibroue which I got to attend - the messaging was absolutely clear that they'd acquired them because they thought they made amazing beer, and wanted to help enable them make and distribute more of it. I was skeptical but happy to be proven wrong. Sapporo's later involvement doesn't seem to have changed things either... though I'd be curious to hear from a more plugged in QC person. Which is probably who you were targeting with this thread, moreso than muggins here :slight_smile:
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  3. FondueVoodoo

    FondueVoodoo Initiate (0) Feb 12, 2012 British Columbia (Canada)

    I agree with lurk that I still consider them Canadian - but maybe a harder question is whether they are still "craft".
  4. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Poo-Bah (7,083) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    oh man don't go there :wink:

    There is much Unibroue down here on the East coast of the United States. Not hard to find. I do think some QC representation and thoughts from some Quebecers would be interesting too. Give it time.

    I do find them sort of monolith and giant, not so much interpersonal, questions and email I have sent to them have gone to a black hole. :confused:
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  5. FondueVoodoo

    FondueVoodoo Initiate (0) Feb 12, 2012 British Columbia (Canada)

    But isn't that what you are kind of getting at when you speak on being a monolith or black hole?

    As for Canadian, to me if it operates here and has Canadian employees etc then that entity is Canadian. The fact that its shares are ultimately held by a non-Canadian entity doesn't affect the jurisdiction of the sub, but that is the detached legal me.
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  6. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Poo-Bah (7,083) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    no not really, this isn't a debate about what is craft or what is not... I am focusing on ownership and whether Canadians feel a pride of nationally to the brand. or maybe that doesn't matter?

    Please don't get into the "craft" discussion that has been beaten to death on here which personally I am sick of. I am not offended on the idea or concept, but I don't want to de-rail the discussion from the main point as to whether Canadians see this as a national brand or just a mass foreign owned conglomerate.

    It's hard for me to get a pulse, so I am asking much of the Canadian BA contributors to have their say.

    Would also like to hear from some QC fans , it really makes me wonder cause back in the days of yore I really don't remember this brand as much and it was very much an oddity (I am talking WAY back!)
  7. FondueVoodoo

    FondueVoodoo Initiate (0) Feb 12, 2012 British Columbia (Canada)

    By no means was I trying to take it there as I don't care for the debate either, was just trying to get a sense of the question which I get now.

    For me, it is legally Canadian, but once a home grown company is taken over by a foreign entity it losses that emotional attachment. This is something we Canadian's unfortunately experience too much - seeing local companies bought out.

    So I see it as more of a foreign brand now that has a historical tie to Canada. It isn't truly Canadian anymore, but is more Canadian than a completely foreign entity if that makes any sense.
    Smakawhat likes this.
  8. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Poo-Bah (7,083) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    so do you consider Unibroue "Canadian" does it matter? I know in my travels back to the old country there is a good chunk of many Canadian locals that produce tasty brews, without having to rely on the mass producers.
  9. ricochet173

    ricochet173 Initiate (86) Jul 6, 2011 Quebec (Canada)

    I've met some of the people repping Unibroue these days... and they are very proud, passionate people. Unibroue is, to me, strongly Quebecois.
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  10. FondueVoodoo

    FondueVoodoo Initiate (0) Feb 12, 2012 British Columbia (Canada)

    I do consider them Canadian, yes, but I do get a tinge of sadness when you have to note that they are no longer Canadian controlled.
  11. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Poo-Bah (7,083) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    mm.. I understand. I do wonder of the brands identity. I sort of look at them as a US version of Ommegang to some degree. they sort of are more so an anomaly. Their brews are affordable in comparison of course to their Belgian counterparts state side, and they are in no question decent brews in my opinion.
  12. mtomlins

    mtomlins Savant (929) Mar 12, 2010 Ontario (Canada)

    I think you have to be careful there when speaking about control. Yes, some portion of the profit goes to some non-Canadian corporation, but as Lurk mentioned, those companies were explicit in stating their intentions were not to meddle with recipes, but aid in distribution. I would contend control still remains in Quebec (provided the profit margins are good :slight_smile:).

    Re the OP: IMHO, yes, they are still Canadian. People were/are very skeptical of the InBev buy-out of Goose Island. Is Goose Island any less American now?
  13. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Poo-Bah (7,083) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    I think the perception of GI being taken over by a foreign company is compounded by the fact that most people AB first... then ABInbev (a foreign group) second.

    Then you add the fact that it's more of a (IMHO) hands off we let GI do their own thing, not so much to kill the Goose that lays the golden egg (snicker!!!!) :stuck_out_tongue:
  14. FondueVoodoo

    FondueVoodoo Initiate (0) Feb 12, 2012 British Columbia (Canada)

    When I speak of control I am speaking of legal control. As they hold the controlling interest of what is now a sub, they control it.

    Now in practice that can be different where they let them do their own thing. That seems to be what is happening at both GI and Unibroue.
    mtomlins likes this.
  15. mtomlins

    mtomlins Savant (929) Mar 12, 2010 Ontario (Canada)

    I see what you did there, nice one...:slight_smile:

    Puns aside, I think that is the same argument Lurk, FV, myself (and now generalizing for all Canadians) and many/majority of CA BA's would make, that the relationship between Sapporo and Unibroue is hands and please keep making us all that money by brewing incredible beer.
  16. matthaslaservision

    matthaslaservision Initiate (0) Aug 18, 2012 British Columbia (Canada)

    pretty sure sapporo/sleeman only has distribution rights not ownership of the company as a whole...
  17. FondueVoodoo

    FondueVoodoo Initiate (0) Feb 12, 2012 British Columbia (Canada)

    Not according to their website or Wikipedia.

    "The company was purchased bySleeman Breweries Ltd. in 2004, which was itself taken over by Sapporo in 2006."
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