Uncle Ben's Brewery: A Beer Revolution
This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
Uncle Ben, a.k.a. Ben Ginter, was born in Poland in 1923 and raised on a farm near Swan River, Manitoba after his family immigrated to the Prairies. When he was 13 years old he left home to become a labourer.
In 1948, Ginter and a partner started a heavy equipment construction company and began working across Western Canada.
In 1949 he moved to Prince George, B.C. with his wife Grace and the company set up operations in Prince George. In 1962, while looking for a storage yard and repair shed for his construction equipment he purchased the non-operational Caribou Brewing Company for $150,000. The building still housed a large, usable copper brewing kettle.
Ginter was approached with the idea of re-establishing the brewery and he re-opened the old brewery as Tartan Brewing, later changing the name to Uncle Ben’s Brewery.
Over time, Ben Ginter built up the largest independent brewery in B.C. “Ginter was well known for waging a running battle with large national breweries and for his sales gimmicks” however, Ginter was also a very innovative man. In 1966, Ben Ginter began a revolution in beer. He produced Pil’ Can beer, a pilsner beer in a can, the first of its kind in B.C. and introduced the first refund for empty cans.