Free beer for Molson retirees dries up

Current employees will also see a reduction in beer allotment

Beer company Molson has sobering news for retirees and current employees. As of Jan. 1, their annual allotment of free beer will be significantly reduced and, for retirees, will eventually dry up altogether.

While the number of free beers for workers and retirees varies across the country, retirees from the St. John's, Nfld., brewery get 864 free beers a year, or 72 bottles a month. In the New Year, that allotment will drop for retirees across the country to 12 beers per month, or 144 a year. In five years, Molson is turning off the tap completely.

Current workers in St. John's will see their allotment drop from 864 beers each year to 624, which will also be consistent across the country. There's no plan to cut off workers after five years.

The free-beer policy was originally instituted not only as an employee perk but also in hopes employees would share the beer and thereby promote it, said a company spokesperson.

The company announced the change, without consulting unions or pensioners, in a letter in early April. Shortly after, the parent company Molson Coors announced its net profit more than doubled in the first quarter of 2009 compared to last year.

There are 2,400 Molson retirees in Canada. Their free beer costs the company about $1 million a year.

Latest stories