B.C. Beer Blog

The who, what, where, when, why, and how of B.C. craft beer

The Business of Craft Beer

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BCB Business of Craft Beer EventAccording to Jan Zeschky’s reckoning, there will be 22 new craft breweries opening in British Columbia this year — that is, 22 he is aware of. This will bring the total number of BC craft breweries and brewpubs to 85.

So if we assume, on average, that each brewery will produce six beers annually (four core, two seasonals), that amounts to 510 BC craft beers. That is equal in number to 84% of all beers currently sold in the 197 BC government liquor stores, only you won’t find even close to that number of local craft beers actually sold there.

This makes for an increasingly competitive landscape, putting more pressure on startups to have a solid business plan. Read the rest of this entry »

SYWTOABP: Minimum Viable Market Size

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The So You Want To Open A Brew Pub series ended many moons ago, but people still read it and it has become a valuable resource for entrepreneurs and beer aficionados. Sometimes folks leave comments and questions and sometimes they find my personal email address and write me directly. The most common question is, do I think [insert small Canadian town name] is a good spot to open a brew pub? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Muskie

December 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm

BC Liquor Law Review: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

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Almost anyone who enjoys having an alcoholic beverage in British Columbia will have a gripe or few about the legal restrictions on doing so. Well, now you have a chance to influence some changes the government will make to bring our laws more in line with the current social culture. Like Halley’s Comet, this opportunity does not come often. Don’t let this chance to have your views included pass. Saying your individual opinions don’t matter is lame. It’s not about you! It is the sum of the parts that matter, so make yourself part of the equation by October 31 for the collective impact to be greater.

So what should those changes be? It’s easy to leap right into the details, but I have to agree with Anthony Gismondi:

Modernizing B.C. liquor laws has to start with a philosophical change about how we interact with alcohol.

In many respects, I think we are already there, given the many parties that are pushing for change. The challenge is for the government to accept the broader cultural underpinning for these changes and approach this issue from that perspective, rather than reacting piecemeal to parochial lobbying, which is what led to the LDB warehouse privitization fiasco and special dispensations to the wine industry (BYOB, legal personal importation) that irritated beer and spirits folks.

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Molson Scoops Prized Sartori Hops

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Sartori Cedar Ranch hop harvest.

Cresting the hill, a vista unfolds much changed since I last visited five years ago. Once an open field and a vision in the mind of Christian Sartori, the land is now covered by trellises draped with verdant boas sporting clusters of aromatic hops, hops that gave rise to Driftwood’s legendary Sartori Harvest IPA.

When I first paid a visit to Chris Sartori’s secluded Columbia Valley ranch, I was joined by two brewers and a brewery owner. The hop crisis had hit and I was hoping that by introducing Chris to our craft brewers, they would establish a long-term relationship that would both reduce the financial risk of his venture and help create for them a more reliable hop supply. Read the rest of this entry »

Forage for Craft Beer Contest

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forage draught beer tapsWhile I have lamented for some time that most hotels in Vancouver seem oddly uninterested in promoting local craft beer to the city’s visitors, this is slowly beginning to change. One of my current favourite Vancouver hotels to enjoy a BC brew at is The Listel Hotel on Robson Street (at Jervis). Forage, their zero waste restaurant (formerly, O’Doul’s), offers a seasonally-changing selection of ten BC craft taps, along with some Pacific Northwest bottles. I can’t resist having their meaty popcorn with crackling for a beer snack as a start to an evening of seriously good local communal noshing. Chef Whittaker’s award-winning BC spot prawn and seafood chowder is also not to be missed!

Starting today, in a BCbrews exclusive contest, you have three chances to win a $100 gift certificate to forage. Every Monday for the next three weeks, I’ll be posting a question on Twitter with the hashtag #forage4beer relating to forage’s beer selection, which you can find on their Web site. Answer the question once on Twitter, being sure to include the hashtag. Then, on every Friday at 5pm, we’ll choose a random winner who has correctly answered the question.

On a final note, be sure to keep an eye on the forage twitter feed for news of an exciting craft beer event that is in the works. You won’t want to miss it!

Vancouver Approves On-Site Brewery Lounges

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by Wanderingpaddy

Last night the City of Vancouver took a huge step forward in modernizing their liquor policies by unanimously approving zoning changes to allow breweries, distilleries and wineries to have small, licensed lounges on-site where they can sell their products to be consumed.

The by-law changes removes the roadblocks (read here) in Vancouver that were preventing breweries from taking advantage of a recent provincial liquor policy changes allowing breweries and distilleries to apply for endorsements to their manufacturing licenses to run on-site, licensed lounges giving them equal footing with wineries who have had this opportunity for years.

As of today, breweries can apply to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch for their lounge and special event endorsements (see link above)| with the knowledge that they have clear sailing as far as Vancouver City Council is concerned.

That is the good news which has the local craft beer industry and craft beers consumers hoisting a jar of their favourite local brew in celebration.

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BC Liquor Law Reform Post-Election: Where Do We Go From Here?

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by WanderingPaddy

The election hangover has long past. British Columbians who were excited about the possibility of the NDP taking charge and following through on their promise to reform our provincial liquor laws “one practical step at a time”, have come to grips with the reality that we have four more years ahead of us with the Liberals steering the political ship. Hopefully, not four more years of business as usual.

The provincial Liberals have made some positive changes to our liquor laws and policies over the past few years, but have not “overhauled” them as they claimed in a February press release. The Liberal approach has been haphazard, at best, and reactionary, described by the NDP as a “piecemeal approach to liquor policy,”not part of a systematic, comprehensive plan.

The NDP had made it loud and clear, both before and during the election, that they were committed to a full review of current BC liquor laws. This would have included a comprehensive consultation with the BC liquor industry to work out an effective strategy to modernize our liquor policies, which even the Liberals have described as archaic. They have, to this point, also been very open to listening to consumers. I have had meetings with several NDP MLAs where we discussed issues that negatively impact the craft beer-drinking public.

We will never know if the NDP would have been able to keep that election promise. But my sense is that the commitment is real, and that they are ready to continue to push the Liberals from the opposition side of the BC Legislature to start a full review.

So where do we go from here?
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