Craft brewers across the province are growling about proposed changes to the price of take-away beer.
Known as growlers, the 1.8-litre, refillable glass jugs have become popular at many small breweries and brew pubs in B.C.
“People like the idea of going down to the brewer like it’s a bakery and grabbing that loaf of bread — or a beer. It gives them a sense of connection to their community,” said Gary Lindsay, owner of Driftwood Brewery.
However, come April 1, that connection is going to cost a little bit more. Arguing that growlers are consumed off-site, B.C.’s Liquor Distribution Branch is forbidding brewers from counting them as part of their draught sales.
“In the LDB’s mind, it’s a finished, packaged product that leaves the brewery in the hands of the customer,” Lindsay said.
The LDB takes a smaller mark-up on draught beer — about 28 cents less per litre. Should brewers pass the cost onto consumers, a typical $10 growler will go up by about 50 cents.
Lindsay, whose brewery already complies with the new rules, doesn’t expect the change will have an adverse effect on sales. However, some of his colleagues disagree.
“This increased markup, which really only impacts craft breweries (how many growlers of Molson Canadian do you see out there), shows once again that the government is not being very supportive of the craft beer industry as they continue to make it difficult for these smaller breweries to operate, be profitable and grow,” wrote Paddy Treavor, former president of CAMRA Vancouver, in a blog post.
CAMRA, which stands for Campaign for Real Ale, has started an online petition asking Minister Rich Coleman and the LDB to reconsider the policy change.