In the last year, I have traveled a considerable amount for work: logged tens of thousands of miles of flight distance and found myself in all sorts of places with beer laws that vary in many ways from our own. Each time that I return to British Columbia, something new and exciting has awaited me on the shelves of our retailers and breweries. Events of all kinds fill our calendars and we are seeing incredible imports brought to our market from distributors who are constantly raising the bar in terms of accessibility.
In the same breath, we are engaging in dialogue and collaborating with municipalties to overhaul antiquated bylaws and make it easier for consumers to purchase and enjoy craft products. All of these have caused me to arrive at a conclusion that, at first, I refused to accept. So much so that I delayed writing this update until I had really given it some thought and felt confident in my conclusion.
That conclusion? In the grand scheme of things, we in BC really don’t have it that bad when it comes to craft beer. In fact, we have it pretty darned good.
Yes, there are things we want to see improved or changed. Yes, we still have absurd laws governing taxation of high-ABV ( >12% ) beers. The BCLDB is still making it difficult and expensive for private LRS to do business with, and many beers with a limited shelf life still sit in their warehouse for far longer than is reasonable, resulting in less-fresh product. These are things that are very much on our radar, but they take time to move against. There are other objectives that we can accomplish in parallel: achieving progress in other areas while we build out our long-term, larger movements.
Which is exactly what we’re doing:
We’re pushing hard to get municipalities to finally allow breweries to open in cities that previously didn’t allow for it.
Our executive team is engaging leaders at various City Halls, working together to explore loosening laws surrounding the consumption of alcohol at public events and spaces.
I have been gathering support from MLAs and members of Parliament in order to secure allies in lobbying the BC government to make it easier for private liquor stores to operate and acquire products.
We are gathering resources to mount a campaign to protect BC craft beer products from being deliberately tucked out of sight at liquor stores as part of “pay-to-play” programs run by macro beer companies. While these programs are opt-in at the licensee level, it is also an anticompetitive initiative that impacts our breweries and their local products – to the benefit of an international company.
We are looking to change the way damaged products are handled by the BCLDB in order to reduce the cost of loss to breweries – leading to prices that are higher than they could be for consumers.
These are enormous initiatives that take time to incubate and execute on. Some have taken months to develop. Others might take years of hard work. No great, groundbreaking advances are going to be made overnight, and so I wish to remind consumers that, while these efforts take time, research and resources, they are being pursued with great passion and interest by unpaid volunteers.
That’s where you come in.
Are you interested in playing a role in driving change? We’d love to talk. Whether at a branch level or on our BC executive team, we are acutely interested in hearing from you. Reach out to your local branch Executive teams, or feel free to contact me directly.
In short? Anyone who believes that our organization hasn’t accomplished much is, candidly, sorely mistaken. Progress is being made. Change is coming. Enjoy our craft beer ecosystem here in British Columbia in the meantime, because there are a lot of great things going on here these days.