Barley Mowat 

Brewery Lounges

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The hot topic du jour in BC craft brewing circles is the City of Vancouver deciding whether or not to allow local breweries to set up and operate tasting lounges. Well, okay, maybe it’s not the hot topic in all of BC. Municipalities other than Vancouver have no issue with letting breweries sell you their beer. It’s just us lucky folks in No Fun City being told to, well, not have fun.

Paddy over at the VanEast Beer Blog has a great summary of all the details here(CAMRA also has you covered here). You should go read that and then, the next time you see his grinning bald head in public, buy him a Fat Tug. What Paddy is not admitting to online is that a lot of the progress here has been his doing. Sure, local breweries have absolutely been active, and the mayor appears to be on the side of good, but Paddy has been working the political channels non-stop in the interest of getting things done.

So what’s all the fuss about, then? If you didn’t click the link above it all boils down to this: earlier this year the BC Government made changes to the Liquor Act that would allow a brewery to sell, onsite, more than 12 ounces of beer to each client per day (as they are currently limited to). Sounds easy enough to implement, but the City jumped in the way and insisted on the additional requirement of a Liquor Primary License for breweries that want to sell that second tasting glass of beer.

Liquor Primaries, in addition to being notoriously difficult and expensive to obtain, are not allowed in industrial zones in Vancouver which–you guessed it–is where all the breweries are located. And thus a Catch-22 was born: you can either brew the beer or sell a 13th ounce per day, but not both. It should be noted that this is all the City’s rules–the Province indicates that no Liquor Primary is required at all. Since the Province are the ones that make up the rules in the first place, you’d think their opinion would matter, but I guess that’s why we don’t get politics.


It’s mostly just the hug fights during parliament that confuse me.

For what it’s worth, Mayor Gregor Robertson appears to be quite supportive of the latest batch of craft breweries, even going so far as to tweet “Working on new regs to allow tasting lounges + more support for #Vancouver’s #craftbrew industry”. If the story holds, we should seem some progress in May. Of course, I trust politicians about as much as I trust that my $5 handed to the sketchy street guy is really going to food (if anything, he seemed even “hungrier” when he came back 90 minutes later and asked for more).

The one thing that keeps politicians honest, though, is the public eye. So tweet away at Mr. Mayor (@MayorGregor) and let him know that walking into a brewery and being able to try more than half of a single beer is something you’re keen to do in Vancouver.

Written by chuck

April 21st, 2013 at 5:08 pm

One Response to 'Brewery Lounges'

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  1. The Mayor is onboard, as is his entire office. The problem is that he can only influence the zoning and permits departments, he can’t just tell them what to do. As this change would require writing a whole new set of laws into the books for Vancouver I would hazard to guess there are a couple of dinosaurs on that team who have traditionalist views on zoning…

    cbjerrisgaard

    22 Apr 13 at 01:36

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