Call Me Stormy

Finding righteous currents in turbulent times

World of Beers XVII

On tap tonight: Carling’s Black Label, USA.

While Carling reached its peak as an American beer, it’s originally a Canadian lager, first brewed beginning in 1840 in the city of London, Ontario Province. In 1880, an American brewery in Cleveland, Ohio, acquired the rights to produce the Carling brand beers and lagers stateside. The Carling formula: To offer a high-quality lager, at budget prices. To accomplish that, Carling would be bottled regionally at eight or so brewing plants scattered around the United States.

The brand enjoyed its greatest success in the 1950s and 1960s after hiring Jeanne Goodspeed, a New York actress and model, to appear in TV commercials as “Mabel,” the smiling waitress ever-on-the-ready to serve Black Label, while a popular jingle drove home the message — “Hey Mabel — Black Label.” After Goodspeed retired to become a mother, Carling didn’t hire a replacement, but instead created a cartoon likeness of Mabel.

Carling ceased to exist as a stand-alone US brewery in 1979. Since then, other breweries have maintained the line, the most recent being Pabst.

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