Labatt honoring its history with multi-purpose Buffalo facility

1939 Labatt delivery truck -- red with gold lettering. (Ken Goudy Collection)
John Kinder Labatt
Buffalo is about to get a new beer-centric attraction. Labatt USA, part of North American Breweries, has announced plans to open the John Labatt House, a facility that will include a small test brewery, a restaurant, and company headquarters.

The project is part of the $10 million redevelopment of a five-story warehouse in the city’s Cobblestone District by Pegula Sports and Entertainment.

Plans call for the restaurant to function as a space for beer drinkers to taste, experience and even influence new beer development for Labatt by offering feedback on what they sample there. The test brewery will develop and test new products prior to introducing them to the market.

The new headquarters is projected to open in the fall of 2018, with the restaurant and brewery opening in the months to follow.

The project's name can be seen as an honorific for the Labatt Brewing Company's history of being headed by men named John. The Irish-born John Kinder Labatt (1803-1866) founded the brewery. Under his son John Labatt  (1838-1915), it grew to be Canada's largest. Then, John Sackville Labatt (1880-1952), one of his nine children, took over and ran it for decades.

Since 1995, the company has been part of a whirlwind of mergers that dominated the industry. It was purchased that year by the Belgian brewer Interbrew. In 2004, Interbrew merged with the Brazilian brewer AmBev to form InBev. In 2008, InBev merged with American brewer Anheuser-Busch to form Anheuser-Busch InBev (abbreviated AB InBev), and last year a $100 billion merger between AB InBev and SABMiller closed.

So, Labatt now is part of the ridiculously named Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, merfifully trading as the simplified designation BUD on the New York Stock Exchange.
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