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Free Our Beer News Bites – Ontario, B.C. and Alberta

December 5th, 2010 · 9 Comments

It’s been a little while since our last post at Free Our Beer, but it isn’t due to lack of things happening. There’s lots going on and some interesting news will be announced soon.  But I thought I’d post up some quick tidbits of things on the radar in the Free Our Beer world across the country.  First up, in Ontario:

Our first beer to be released at the LCBO, Garrison’s Imperial I.P.A., came and went pretty quickly as part of the Autumn release.  It sold very well as part of the release and I think it’s safe to say a sure-bet for next year’s Autumn release again.  Thanks to everyone who bought the beer, and if you can’t wait until next fall we’ll be continuing with private orders throughout the year.  Watch The Bar Towel for the latest.

Over at The Bar Towel, our recent bus trip to the Blue Monk in Buffalo, NY was featured in the Buffalo News, which included a mention of Free Our Beer.  I had a nice discussion with the author of the article after the trip and he was genuinely interested in how things worked in Ontario.  Compared to the generally open rules around beer in New York state, when compared to a place ‘just across the river’ it is certainly very different.

Now let’s show a little love to our fellow Canadian beer lovers, as there’s some interesting things brewing in the West:

As tipped off by Bar Towel writer Derek Hyde, Kelowna MP Ron Cannan recently introduced a motion in the House of Commons to amend our federal liquor laws and allow direct purchasing of wine from wineries by consumers.  There’s a post over at the Just Grapes blog that mentions this news as well and hints towards beer being included.  Although this is certainly a positive move towards liquor law reform, it’s important to point out that this motion is specifically wine.  Wine has traditionally been a politically safer subject than beer and this seems to be the case still.  In fact, after seeing the news I sent a quick note to Mr. Cannan who promptly wrote me back on the subject:

“My motion deals specifically with wine but it’s quite possible that if the law is ever changed pressure might come to bear for other types of beverages, especially those from small craft brewers.”

So if this motion gains traction and ever becomes law, unfortunately beer is excluded. However, its a step in the right direction for sure.  Would be great to be able to order from craft breweries directly at some point in the future, but we need to include beer in the conversation alongside wine when liquor reform is concerned.

In neighbouring Alberta, the provincial liquor commission strangely and quietly introduced a new policy that has banned the sale of any beer over 11.9% alcohol/volume.  It was reported in the Fast Forward Weekly blog and just this week hit major media with a story and radio segment on CBC.  The CBC story has generated a lot of talk and rightly so.  This policy is completely ridiculous and demonstrates a total ignorance of craft brewing.

A representative from the liquor commission claimed in the CBC radio segment that “social responsibility” was one of the reasons behind the decision.  Certainly sounds familiar for us in Ontario but thankfully there isn’t any kind of regulation that exists of the sort here (although there is an alcohol limit on brewpub-produced beers).  For a province that seemingly has the most open system regarding alcohol in Canada (their alcohol system was privatized in the ’90s) this is truly unfortunate for beer lovers in Alberta.  We at Free Our Beer support full access for craft beer drinkers all across the country and we’ll watch this story closely and assist however we can.

Tags: Government · Importing · LCBO · Media · Outside Ontario

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9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chris // Dec 6, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    I didn’t realize there was a limit on Brewpub produced beers. Very strange and arbitrary. Arguably the best place to experiment is artificially restricted from really experimenting.

  • 2 admin // Dec 6, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Yes, brewpub beers cannot exceed 6.5% alc./vol. That’s why some pubs that resemble brewpubs (Granite, Mill St) are actually tied houses to breweries, where this doesn’t apply. But Volo, for example, who just started brewing their own house beer, doesn’t go over 6.5%.

  • 3 Kevin // Dec 6, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Great Site guys. My thanks for your efforts.


    I think the key around liberalizing these laws is to pick on 1 or at most 2 things that need liberalizing (we can all agree there are more); and then build critical mass around them.

    If we said there were a 10 issues of concern around Ontario’s parochial laws, they might be…
    (in no particular order)

    1)Retail Monopoly (LCBO and Beer Store)
    2)Drinking Age (its 18 in both next-door provinces)
    3) Last Call (could be later)
    5)Allowing Drinks in movie auditoriums
    6)More locations where alcohol could be purchased (geography, as opposed to diff. stores)
    7)Longer open hours (esp on Sundays) for stores
    8)More personal freedom to move alcohol across provincial borders and international ones
    9)Not being so rigid on alcohol in public (why can’t you have a beer on the beach?)
    10) Price (liquor/beer taxes and mark-ups are excessive)

    All that said, we know we’re not going to get government to change all of the above anytime soon.

    So there’s a need to pick a target, one that doesn’t cost Queen’s Park money; and one that could resonate with the broader public.

    I think the 3 easiest to get passed would be

    A) Last Call extension
    B) Longer Retail Sales hours
    C) And reduced listing fees for the Beer Store

    Then hopefully, you guys can get a Facebook Page and get the ball rolling.

    Provincial Election, October 2011. No time like the present!

  • 4 Chris // Dec 6, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Maybe I’m getting old, but I really don’t care about the last call extension, or longer retail sales hours. Reduced listing fees could help, but I doubt that the Beer Store would do anything willingly.

    I’d rather see more opportunity for small brewers or importers to bring truly unique products to market. Reduce trade barriers, red tape and some of the ridiculous regulations. Why does alcohol face so many more stringent rules than does the food that we eat?

  • 5 admin // Dec 6, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Here you go Kevin:

  • 6 Alberta Gets Their Strong Beer Back | Free Our Beer // Dec 24, 2010 at 9:25 am

    […] we mentioned earlier in December, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) strangely and for no apparent logical […]

  • 7 Andy // Jul 27, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Beer and Wine at convenience stores ????

    This is a “STUPID” idea.

    Selling wine and beer at convenience stores will only help convenience store owners bottom line. If Beer and wine is sold at convenience stores, than so should Marijuana !!…and cocain !!.

    What about prescription drugs ?…We don’t need a pharmacist, convenience store clerks can sell drugs just as well. It will do nothing for the public. Don’t Kid yourself with these five very DUMB reasons to do it.

    Like your reason number 2 – Consumers won’t have to walk 12 blocks to the pharmacy. < That is a great reason for all variety stores to sell drugs isn't it?

    If we do sell beer and wine in ontario convenience stores than people can just hang around outside the stores and Drink !!…than urinate on the sidewalk like in montreal. Have you ever seen what the convenience stores in montreal look and SMELL like?…they all smell like Urine. That's because people don't have to drive there. They can buy beer and drink it outside. This causes a lot of people to congregate and hangout outside the convenience stores. Just like kids used to do when convenience stores had Video Arcade Games in them. They don't have
    video games anymore, so they don't hang around. Just imagine kids can buy cigarettes and Booze at the local convenience stores.

    I guess when this happens, we can send out police to stand around and enforce the underage and loitering laws. So we would just need to hire about 8000 more police officers to enforce this dumb idea.

    That's a really nice picture for ontario. Really !!!…I can go on about this, but it is JUST SO STUPID AN IDEA THAT


    (Except teenagers and drunks, I'm sure they LOVE the idea.)

    The Beer Stores, and the LCBO may not be so convenient, but convenience and easy access leads to excess & abuse.

    Not sometimes !!!!…ALWAYS

  • 8 Guy // Jul 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    NO to sales in stores. Majority of those who want it are under the age of 25, that says it all. For convenience ? seriously ! Ya so hard to go to a local beer store , geez ! It doesn’t put Ontario behind, it keeps us ahead and civilized.

  • 9 Gerald Derouin // Apr 24, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I understand that there is a petition around regarding the sale of beer in convenience stores.
    Where is it please? I want to sign it.