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Beer: The Product

Beer is an alcoholic beverage produced by fermentation. It is made from water, malt – germinated grain, usually barley, but also other cereals – and hops. There are two main brewing processes. Top fermentation, done at high temperatures, produces ales with a bold taste, while bottom fermentation, done at cool temperatures, produces lagers with a more subtle flavour. Different malts, hops and alcohol contents produce subcategories, such as the ales called porter, bitter and stout.

Thomas Dawes founded his brewery in Lachine in 1826, and it went on to become an imposing beer-making complex. A farmer by trade, he grew barley and hops. Dawes Brewery initially made just two beers, Lachine Ale and Lachine Porter, but over the years it produced several sorts. The most popular was definitely Black Horse ale, the company’s flagship product, which remained a best-seller from the late 1800s to 1952.

In terms of taste, Black Horse probably was not all that different from the ales then brewed by Molson, Dawes’s main competitor. But the ads for Black Horse lauded its real or presumed virtues, billing it as “Canada’s finest ale,” “smooth and mellow,” “well aged” and “good for digestion.”