Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ontario regulation restricts beer selection

If you ever get into a debate on the question of how absurd Ontario’s alcohol laws are, all you have to do is describe what the laws actually are. Here is a description from a Buffalo news outlet:
The Ontario beer menu is shorter because there are only two retail choices, Enright said: The provincial government's Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) outlets, and the Beer Store outlets, which are run by large beer companies, Molson, Labatt and Sleeman.
Brewers can approach the Beer Store for shelf space, but the entry price can be too steep for many of the smaller American companies.

"The majority of brands at the Beer Store are different brands from the big brewers, multiple products from Molson, Labatt, Coors, Bud, that kind of thing," plus mass-produced internationals like Heineken and Stella Artois, Enright said.

The Liquor Control Board stores have the widest selection, but it's not easy for small American brewers to meet its requirements, Enright said. Varieties, even short-run seasonals like a pumpkin ale, have to be submitted for possible inclusion a year before they can appear on shelves, Enright said. Labels have to be printed in French as well as English.

"It's not like you have small, independent stores where you can talk to the beer buyer and he'll take a couple cases," he said. "It's a process that takes a year for a beer to get onto the shelf, which makes it very challenging to a lot of small craft brewers."
As a result of this silliness beer lovers from Ontario are forced to go to Buffalo to get a proper taste of the booming micro-brewery industry. And as a friend of mine put it, “people should never have to go to Buffalo.”

7 comments:

Simeon (Sam) George Drakich said...

Freedom come to Windsor and we shall cross the creek to quaff a few pints at the Oak Cafe.
http://oakcafe.com/

renegade tory said...

Interesting article, I wonder how different the selection of beer would be if the LCBO was no longer under the direct control of the Ontario government?

Martin said...

This is mostly correct, but ignores the fact that LCBO discriminates against all micro brewwers, including the Ont. companies. Brewers located a few miles away do not have their products on the shelves, while beers from New Zealand, Japan, Poland are prominently displayed.
There is nothing wrong with any of these brews, but beer is one product that does not transport well, the local product is invariably better. It always irritates me to see so many brews from England and Ireland displayed. Many of these brands are made by industry giant Guinness. The LCBO will always prefer to deal with a large compamy like Guinness, or the Belgian equivalent, rather than an Ont. company. It is insanity to brew beer in Dublin or Aukland and fly it all the way to Ont., not much value added in any of these related jobs.

Hugh MacIntyre said...

renegade tory,

Privatizing the Control Board is not enough. You need competition too. Consider the fact that the selection is actually better in the Control Board than the Beer Store.

Martin,

Not only do we have access to more foreign beer than local beer, we only have access to the worst of the foreign beer.

NeilD said...

We have some very good micro-breweries here in the Niagara region.
Lots of vineyards and highly rated restaurants too.
Combine those with your pick of B&B's and you have the makings for a very pleasant weekend.

I was recently stopped crossing back into Canada and told to pay an additional $17 on my $10 bottle of cheap brandy that I had bought to test the system.
The $17 surcharge was for duty, taxes and lost LCBO profit.
I told them to keep the bottle.

Anonymous said...

Because we have to have French on the label no matter what. (real conservative)

L said...

BC is just as bad. Try to find a store ... All the booze is taxed to the max.