Beer ads from the Vancouver Daily Province, December 20, 1940. First, an ad for Coast Breweries of New Westminster, followed by an ad for Vancouver Breweries Ltd.

Note how similar the branding appear in these competing ads; Lucky Lager is the one beer that looks unlike all the rest with it’s distinctive cross label, and ironically, it’s the one brand that appears to have fared the best. Burton Ale and Old Country Ale could go head to head, while Britannia Beer and Pilsener Lager Beer would also be fairly matched. The brand UBC Bohemian seems an odd curiosity today, and 4x Cream Stout was over 10% alcohol!

Rainier Beer is a personal favourite of mine, and typographically, it competes well with Cascade. I’ve included a full colour Rainier Beer label here, brewed at the Westminster Brewery Ltd. in New Westminster, BC. It’s true Rainier was originally an American brand, but it was purchased by the Sick’s beer empire in 1935 after American prohibition, as described on the Rainier wikipedia page. It has changed hands a number of times since then, and brewing finally came to an end in 2003. The Rainier brand has since been revived and is now brewed under license, albeit south of the border.

I was contemplating why nearly all these brands have disappeared; I’m sure the consolidation of breweries and post-war advertising were factors, but I guess tastes also change. And it’s probably easier to introduce a new brand than it is to update an older one. The fact that Lucky Lager continues to be produced here in Canada is a small miracle, although I think it wouldn’t be out of the question for more of these lost brands to make a resurgence.

If you’d like to OD on some more vintage beer labels, check out this acquisition of 3,000 beer labels at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in Toronto. Oh, and be sure to sing along to this Labatt beer-drinking songbook from the 1930s!

Happy Christmas everyone, and once again, please drink responsibly!