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Summer beer festivals saved by...The Beer Store?

Posted by Ben Johnson / May 15, 2014

Summer beer festival torontoThe bureaucratic beer snafu we reported a few weeks ago that posed a potential threat to Ontarian's enjoyment of beer festivals this summer appears to have been avoided with the assistance of an unlikely hero: The Beer Store.

Yes, following the news that Left Field Brewery and other contract breweries might not be allowed to participate in events licensed with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario's (AGCO) Special Occasion Permits, The Beer Store evidently stepped in to see what they could do.

According to a Beer Store press release issued this morning, "soon after the problem was identified, the Beer Store developed a new sales process designed to facilitate the sale of contract brews like Left Field to special occasion permit events in a manner consistent with Ontario's Liquor Licence Act."

Ted Moroz, President of The Beer Store, is quoted in the release as saying, "We are huge supporters of all Ontario-based brewers including those in the rapidly growing craft beer business," he says. "Crafts who produce their products under contract are the start-ups, like Left Field Brewery, who need our support the most."

Regardless of how much IPA may have just been spit out in disbelief across the province as craft beer fans read the words above, the fact remains that Ontario's only legislated private beer retailer, the one owned by three of the world's largest, mostly foreign-owned brewers, did in fact just get little guys Left Field Brewery out of a jam.

Left Field Brewery's Mark Murphy explained how the fix will work and, while it's not exactly subtle, it works. "We tell the beer fest which beer and how much of it we want to bring," Murphy says. "Then the beer fest uses that info to issue a purchase order to The Beer Store."

The Beer Store then effectively "buys" the beer from Left Field Brewery.

"We're still responsible for delivery, collecting payment, returns, etc. but TBS brokers the deal," Murphy says. To make it all legal, the Beer Store will charge Left Field Brewery approximately $20 in admin fees.

Is it a silly work-around to dumb problem? Yes.

Is it insane that craft brewers need the help of a store owned by big brewers just to figure out ways to hack our province's archaic liquor legislation? Clearly.

Is it possible that the Beer Store has jumped all over a chance for an easy PR win helping craft brewers because they feel like their position as our only private beer retailer is being challenged? That'd be a heck yes.

But the fact remains that Left Field Brewery and other contract brewers will now be able to participate in the beer festivals they need to get their businesses started. It means precious word of mouth and exposure for these start-up breweries and, importantly, it guarantees the presence and variety of new and small brewers that craft beer fans expect at beer festivals.

So I guess we need to...thank The Beer Store?

I feel so dirty.

Ben Johnson also writes about beer over on Ben's Beer Blog. After he's done weeping in the shower, you can catch him on twitter at @Ben_T_Johnson.



jack / May 15, 2014 at 03:05 pm
I think this is the exact definition of 'beurocracy'
carls / May 15, 2014 at 03:10 pm
vonfunk / May 15, 2014 at 03:12 pm
nathan / May 15, 2014 at 03:30 pm
Barback / May 15, 2014 at 03:34 pm
Steve / May 15, 2014 at 03:40 pm
foxyboxing? is that one?
Ira / May 15, 2014 at 03:57 pm
TBS Score:
Goals for TBS = 1
Goals Against TBS = 25006938276039602

Nice gesture..but still loosing the public good will by a long shot
W. K. Lis / May 15, 2014 at 04:33 pm
The Beer Store is afraid, very afraid.
loper / May 15, 2014 at 04:37 pm
I'm tired of the IPA jabs. IPA is great beer. Just get over yourself.
Henry / May 15, 2014 at 05:14 pm

Whenever my friends gather over a pint (or five) of Ontario craft, we agree that no one should hold a grudge against any Beer Store's employee. They're mostly hard working and nice people, trying to get by like everyone else. The bribery and lobbying that keep Ontario's insane beer laws in place is done at such a level that might as well be in another galaxy.
Barbara Dixon / May 15, 2014 at 05:39 pm
We've got to get the Wynne Government out! She is causing so many problems. She can just keep running, I say, out of the province into the land of the Truly ugly people, where she can feel at home.
Michael replying to a comment from Barbara Dixon / May 15, 2014 at 07:08 pm
Yeah Barbara, that's exactly right, blame the Wynne Liberals who have been in office now since 2003 for beer regulations that were enacted prior to World War 2. Lets see in that period the Tories ran the province from, oh around 1943 (George A. Drew) to 1985 (Frank Miller) then from 1995 (Mike Harris) to 2003 (Ernie Eves) but lets blame the McGuinty/Wynne Liberals cause that's gotta be the cause. (Just like the deregulation of power is fault of the Liberals as is the hole in the ozone layer, the cold war, the sack of Rome - the one under Alaric in 410 you understand, not the sack of 390 BCE and the great Chicago fire of 1871.)

Please, you do know that in and among all the porn on the Internet are actual historical fact, on the off chance that we forgot who deregulated hydro, enacted beer laws or whatever else, we can still look actual historical facts up. (And in the event the Internet is broken there are still, despite BoFo's best efforts, public libraries!)
Barbara Dixon / May 15, 2014 at 08:16 pm
Earlier today I posted a foolish comment. I want to apologize. I was in a drunken stupor and I posted things I shouldn't have. I'm not perfect like all you left wing pinkos. I'm going to go to rehab, lose some weight and then I'll be back to commenting, better than ever.
ex Liberal / May 15, 2014 at 10:23 pm
Barbara Dixon has a point. Voted for those Liberals many times, but I might never vote Liberal for the rest of my life I'm so pissed off about the gas plants, ORNGE, the hypocrisy of McGuinty and this ridiculous holding pattern we're in with the Beer Store and LCBO.
Gail replying to a comment from ex Liberal / May 15, 2014 at 11:02 pm
So true and they have been in power and done nothing but spend and lie, and now that it's election season their coming out with all these promises and ideas. WHY DIDN"T THEY BRING ANY OF THIS FORWARD WHEN THEY HAD POWER?
Anyone watch TVO last night? / May 16, 2014 at 08:58 am
Steve Paikin had an amazing hour-long discussion about the Beer Store monopoly and the suit from The Beer Store got his ass kicked around the block. Basically, the only argument they got left is: trust the Beer Store, because we won't sell to underage kids.

They have to either open their shelves to all (without having to shell out 25K per store), or you have to let a craft beer-only store exist alongside them to provide Ontarians equal access to drinkable beer.

I don't mind supermarkets being opened up a bit to include booze, but I don't want it to become FratBoy or Hobo Central. Perhaps they can be regulated to only sell Canadian wines and/or indie brewer fare?

Beer Store Barons / May 16, 2014 at 09:37 am
I watched Paikin last night, was made sick to my stomach by the hypocracy of the Beer Store. Only 17% of people in the province know that The Beer Store is owned by Americans. I have no problem with the LCBO, they're moderizing and their hours are fine and their outlets are close enough to my work and home, but these knuckheads at the Beer STore have to be tossed out. Why should foreign owners have a monopoly on our beer industry, and then have the gall to basically only sell 24s of crappy beer.
1 / May 16, 2014 at 11:36 am
I'm still waiting for a readily available American inspired IPA that matched the quality of an American IPA.
Danny / May 16, 2014 at 11:38 am
The thing I don't get about SOME of the craft beers is they don't identify whether they are Lager, Ale, Pislner or IPA.

I'm not gonna buy some random beer off the shelf at the LCBO because its got a crazy wacky name and a wild label.
Tuborg replying to a comment from NO / May 16, 2014 at 11:39 am
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