Next time you reach for a frosty British Columbia ‘microbrew’, you may want to take a closer look at the fine print. Yesterday it was announced that Granville Island Brewing was bought by Creemore, itself a sub-brand owned entirely by Molson Coors.

Big brewers taking over small brands is nothing new. But this product is closely tied to an iconic geographic location, and their tagline cements the relationship. So when does remote corporate ownership become ‘Local-Washing?’ (Local-Washing is an emerging term that describes actions taken to make a brand, product or service appear more ‘local’ in origin or production than it actually is. Derived from ‘Greenwashing’)

At issue is a consumer’s right to choose a truly local product if they wish, whether it be to reduce the carbon footprint of shipping, to support their local economy, or just to know and trust their ‘food’ sources. Unless the Molson Coors global conglomerate plans to re-brand this once-local brewery, it will once again be up to the consumer locavore to wade through the obfuscation and discover who the REAL local players are.

Genuine local companies have even more at stake, as they compete on price with the big bad wolf brands in sheep’s clothing. A ‘drink local’ campaign or certification should be developed, with strict criteria for local corporate control. In the meantime, beer drinkers envisioning their local craft brewer carefully checking his hops recipe should have a look at the priorities proudly stated on the Molson Coors web site:

“Molson Coors began its next-generation Resources for Growth cost-reduction program early in 2007 and completed its original 3-year merger synergies program at the 2007 year end.  For both programs, the company exceeded 2007 financial goals, capturing more than $146 million in cost reductions.”

Simply put: if we drink the Local-Wash, the profits pour straight out of town.

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