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Journey to the Source

IF YOU'RE inspired to go rafting in the Yukon, make sure you've got your cool box stocked up with suitable provisions: the most important of them being a mountie's share of Molson, to keep you cool when you get stuck up Sweltering Creek without a paddle.

Started by John Molson - originally a Lincolnshire man - by the St Lawrence river in 1786 (before Canada, territorially speaking, existed), Molson is North America's oldest brewery. These days, the company has joined forces with Miller Brewing in Milwaukee but, back on home soil, the Molson empire now encompasses seven breweries in six Canadian provinces.

According to the Molson website (www.molson.com), the various beers each plant produces are designed with some pretty specific drinkers in mind; "contemporary" beers (including that sophisticated tipple, Carling Black Label) for those with "socially active lifestyles", "traditional" beers for those with "relaxed, comfortable lifestyles" and "premium" beers for those who possess "balanced lifestyles and high aspirations". Curiously there appears to be no category for those in "tree-based professions with open attitudes to checked shirts" but maybe that's something for management to ponder over during their next team-building trip in the Yukon.

If you want to see the whole brewing process in action (which basically entails transforming barley, hops, water and yeast into beer), you'll be disappointed since Canadian health and safety regulations mean that you can no longer sully the breweries with a personal visit. Head to Montreal, however, and you can get the next best thing - the Molson merchandise shop (at 1575 Notre Dame East, Montreal, 00 1 514 521 1786) where you can buy a Molson T-shirt, mug or whatever you fancy to advertise your dedication to the company. Then drop in at the city's Molson Bank to replenish your wallet (with Molson bank notes of course).

If all this sightseeing gets you thirsty, simply call "1 800 MOLSON 1" to find out where your nearest Molson stockist is. There's no need to shop around; thanks to some strict regulations, it seems that wherever you go you'll be able to buy 12 bottles for Can$17 (61p each). If you wait to stock up on Canada's favourite brew in the UK, a bottle of Molson may not be as expensive as you think. Threshers (0151-449 4000 for nearest outlet) usually sells the beer at pounds 1.15 a bottle but from 19 August to 22 September, there's a special deal whereby you get 12 for the price of eight (a bargain 76p each). But by taking your pub crawl in Canada, by my reckoning, you will save 15p per bottle.

Drink 2,000 bottles and sober up nicely with the thought that you'll have paid for your air fare out there (from pounds 299 return, London Gatwick to Montreal, on Air Transat - book through Globespan on 0990 561522) on beer money alone.

Rhiannon Batten