In Oktoberfest festival halls across Waterloo Region, beer selection is limited to Molson Canadian brews and a few craft beers from the Molson-owned Creemore Springs. It’s no coincidence either, as Molson Coors Canada is a sponsor of the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest.
When asked about the beer monopoly, Dave MacNeil, executive director for KW Oktoberfest said, “It takes a lot of cash to put this festival on and it’s important to have our sponsors.”
Molson has been sponsoring Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo for more than thirty years. Gavin Thompson, senior director of corporate affairs of Molson Coors Canada, says the sponsorship means the Denver-based brewer has exclusivity at events.
“There are some of the local microbreweries that are starting to move their threshold up,” Thompson said.
“But to be able to have a direct impact on the numbers of attendees and consumers you have to have a pretty high level of volume," he said.
"The other side of it too, is not just about the beer, it’s about the distribution, it’s about the promotion, it’s about making sure you have the right number of servers there and that’s something we work very closely on,” said Thompson.
One local brewery, Block Three Brewing is getting involved in the 9 day Bavarian-themed festival in their own way by hosting Blocktoberfest at its St. Jacobs facility on Friday night. Owner Phil Hipkiss says they’ll be showcasing their first one-off seasonal beer also named Blocktoberfest.
“We’re hoping [the event is] just kind of a pop-in. You know, have a sample, maybe have a beer, try out our product and then take off and hit up your real Oktoberfest night. Just something we can do to try to contribute to the event and show passion for it.”
Hipkiss added “it would be amazing” if local breweries could participate in official Oktoberfest events.
“Something like, whether it be a one night thing at one of the venues, a small boutique at a couple of the venues…just something to give some local flavor to the event.”