Archive for the ‘Beer and You’ Category
Ever wonder why those slickly awesome 33 Acres ceramic growlers are $65? Watch the video below to see how they’re made from start to finish, by hand, down in Portland (by the logically named Portland Growler Company). In addition to the clean aesthetic of the pure white version favour by 33 Acres, they have one-of-a-kind wood-fired versions (for twice the price, of course).
There’s still time to order one for that special beer geek in your life (or beer blogger that you secretly adore from afar), but before you whip out that VISA there are two caveats that you’ll need to accept:
- Shipping is pricey, as these guys are both heavy AND in the US. $30 shipping on a $65 growler might discourage you, but then again, that’s what Point Roberts was built for. Plus, of course, 33 Acres has a few of their branded versions left in their tasting room.
- Being opaque, these beautiful little vessels can’t be used in the growler-filling stations so popular in BC (which require the operator to watch the beer levels inside). So tap fills it must be. UPDATE: 33 Acres says they’ve figured it out, but other breweries might not be as clever.
Even with those drawbacks, they’re still awfully pretty to look at.
The first recommendation from the BC Liquor Review is here, and it kinda sucks. Sure, booze in grocery stores will be swell and all, but the nagging bit is that whole “maintain the current cap on the total number of retail outlets”–a cap which has been frozen for some years now. Go read the whole thing here. Retaining the cap is a dreadful mistake.
What this means is that your local grocery store need not apply for a license to sell liquor. No new licenses will be created. Instead, they will be forced to try and buy an existing LRS, close it, and transfer the license. For those not in the know, LRS licenses tend to be obscenely profitable, because you’re selling liquor in a market that restricts possible competition (see above re: license cap).
That, in turn, means only the biggest chains will have the cash piles to undertake this process, and that means the in-store retail experience will be focused on recouping the massive outlay required to set the damn thing up in the first place… which means selling loads of product… which means macro beer. Yaaaaay.
Compounding this focus on mass market appeal and high sales volumes will be a disparity between the major stores and smaller food outlets. While the majors will be able to afford to close down a small LRS to pillage the license, the smaller shops won’t. You’ll start seeing situations where a big chain store will have an awesome “Alcoholz of the Werlds!1! W00t!” section on one side of the street while the smaller retail shop on the other side will just have plain old, stupid, boring food with those lousy “nutrients” the hippies won’t shut up about.
So, we just set up an massive system to reward the big, mainstream shops for being so big and mainstream. Yay us. Sure, in the end, I still think this is a small step forward, but I’m not so sure that the heel past the toe here.
Alright, so you’re starting a brewery. Congrats on being awesome. You’ve even managed to jump that next hurdle: financing. You’ve done all the normal steps: harassed friends, begged from the Bank of Mom and Dad, and kidnapped the children of a major financial firm’s loan officer. The deed is done, the money and credit are all lined up, and all it cost was little Jimmy’s toe.
Signing a lease, buying some brewing equipment, and hiring a brewer are really all that’s left between you and profitable, beery awesome-sauce (ProTip: You can avoid hiring a brewer by cloning an existing one).
After all that, though, things are clear sailing right? You can ring in your first growler sale, put that smiling John A MacDonald in the till, and finally start paying your staff, right? Wrong. Most brewery startups miss out on one little detail that seems frankly fairly idiotic: that money in the till? It’s the government’s; you’re just holding on to it for them for a bit.
What the what? Surely you must realize that beer sold in BC is subject to all sorts of mark-ups and taxes, right? What you probably don’t realize is exactly how those mark-ups and taxes are collected. Any sane, normal business, would sit down at the end of the day, do some math, and set aside the cash they owe to the rest of us to pay for things like roads, schools, and dubious senate expenses. It’s only fair.
Breweries, though, get a tough shake here. They aren’t trusted to do math, presumably because they’re corrupt, drunk, or both. Instead of simply remitting the ~$4 of that $10 growler owed to the government, they have to instead deposit the whole $10 into an account that the LCLB can withdraw from, which the LCLB then proceeds to do.
It get’s better. Instead of having the LCLB just take the ~$4 that is owed them, they instead straight up take the whole thing, process the taxes, and send out a cheque to the brewery for what’s left over. This process can take months, as in more than one. No, they don’t give you the interest on your money, what a silly question!
So, your struggling brewery that was depending on squeaky new income to, you know, pay salaries, buy malt and cover such trivial expenses as rent and hydro, now has to wait up to several additional months before seeing the first cent. This isn’t hypothetical. Some BC breweries in recent years spent years building their business only to almost go under immediately after opening because their revenue stream was delayed.
So, John Yap, while we’re talking about booze in grocery stores and beer at farmer’s markets, how about we also take a look at how the backend business of collecting tax on liquor is done, to allow these small brewery startups faster access to direly needed income?
In the meantime, brewery startups should add three or more months to their startup financing to account for this craziness. I’d hate to see you go under before Russian Imperial Stout season.