International Distribution

The distribution of Dawes products in the United States began in 1936. By 1948, Black Horse was available in 23 of the 48 states. The Black Horse Ale Inc. subsidiary sold the beers to licenced wholesalers which, in turn, sold them to taverns, hotels, restaurants and other retail outlets. Bottle-shaped matches and a huge sign in Times Square helped promote the brand to the American market.   

National Breweries’s international exports got off to a start in 1933, when two employees were sent to the West Indies to open markets for Frontenac Blue Label lager. During World War II, the company took advantage of the scarcity of English, Danish and Dutch beers to capture market share and distribute its other brands. Black Horse made its mark in more than 22 countries or regions in the West Indies, South America, Africa and Asia. For each country, the company named a resident agent to handle exclusive sales of its overseas products. These agents had to have thorough knowledge of the territory, the local authorities and the native culture.

The brewery adopted a global strategy: it distributed the exact same product in the same packaging on every continent. Not having to produce specific packaging for specific territories allowed the brewery to minimize production costs while maximizing market coverage.

Morale in a Bottle?

Black Horse beer was distributed to Allied forces during World War II. Soldiers fighting in the deserts of Palestine and Africa had to endure terrible heat. National Breweries claimed that drinking Black Horse boosted their morale and increased their stamina. Regular shipments to overseas troops contributed to the beer’s popularity.

The beer delivered to Canadians stationed abroad had to be bottled, but since the containers could not be sent back for refilling, it was important that Canadians at home return their empty bottles promptly.

Resource References: 

distribution_aux_etats-unis.pdf: The Review. Published in the interests of the employees, vol. 11, no. 11, November 1948, The National Breweries Limited, Montréal, P.Q., pp. 8-9. 

distribution_à_l'étranger.pdf: The Review. Published in the interests of the employees, vol. 11, no. 10, October 1948, The National Breweries Limited, Montréal, P.Q., pp. 8-9.