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BC Breweries By Production

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I’m obsessed with numbers, and as such I was very curious about finding out what the annual production for all our local breweries is. While this is generally published in the US as a sign of pride, in British Columbia the micros tend to keep this info fairly well guarded.

I suppose the implication is that big=bad, and while historically those two things have been strongly correlated, the rise of such huge breweries as Dogfish Head, Boulevard, and Deschutes have shown that it is possible to grow large while still producing good, nay, excellent beer.

However, with the locals keeping their mouths closed we’re stuck, right? Well, not really. You see, the LDB is a government body, and government bodies tend to publish their budgets as a matter of course. As part of that budget, the LDB also publishes the amount of money it pays out to breweries in BC. Since all beer sold in BC must first, by law, be sold to the LDB, these numbers are a decent indication of brewery size.

Using a few breweries that were willing to (privately) give me their production numbers as a starting point, I took these payout numbers and produced a best guess as to brewery production.


  • See that word “guess” up there? That’s what these numbers are. If breweries would like to give me the real numbers, I’d be happy to correct them.
  • The value that seems to best translate dollars to hectolitres for my control breweries is $325. Obviously this is a very rough guess. Draught-only producers will have their production adjusted higher, while bottle-focused producers will be lower.
  • Yes, the final production numbers smell like ass because that’s precisely where I got them from.
  • Because of the craziness of shadow brands and contract brewing, it’s hard to split out some of these numbers. OK Spring, in particular, also produces Sleeman locally, and those sales are blended in.
  • Hoyne is a complete guesstimate, as they had not completed a full year of brewing when these numbers were issued. I’ve adjusted their numbers up to account for this, but who knows how their year went.
  • Some breweries are missing, including: Coal Harbour, Steamworks, Townsite, Parallel 49 amoung others. I have no idea why.
  • I have excluded Labatt’s (Kokanee) simply because it would be impossible to seperate out beer produced in-province from imports.
  • Likewise, I have skipped Mark Anthony Group (Turning Point/Stanley Park) because most of their money comes from wine (Mission Hill)
  • Breweries with no distribution to speak of (mostly brewpubs) have been dropped from the list.

Fun facts:

  • The largest producer in BC is not Molson, as many might have guessed, but rather OK Spring–by a lot.
  • Consider this. The three US producers I mentioned above have these production values:
    • Deschutes: 258,000 hl
    • Dogfish Head: 88,000 hl
    • Boulevard: 184,000 hl
  • Lots of breweries run under slightly different names on the books.
    • Red Truck is Avalon
    • Tree is Fireweed
    • Kamloops, Bowen and Whistler are all shadow brands for Northram
    • Barley Station is Shuswap Lake Brewing
    • Tofino is Tuff City Brewing
    • Steamworks is Quarterdeck (or rather was, they no longer appear in the 2012 numbers)
  • It’s a good time to be a brewer. Virtually all breweries are seeing large year-over-year growth in sales. Except Molson. And Granville Island. Also note I said sales, not profits.
  • Driftwood is by far the fastest growing brewery since 2009. How fast? They’re doing 16x the sales of just four years ago. Second place goes to Phillips at 3.2x.
  • If Driftwood somehow were to continue their extreme rate of growth, they will be the largest brewery in BC in two years. 🙂
  • Since 2009, over 150,000 hl of new market has been created in BC. Of that new market Pac West has grabbed 33% and OK Spring 24%, meaning there’s some truth to there being room to grow slightly up market from macro (Molson lost 32,000hl of market in the same period).
  • Next in relative new growth are Phillips at 16% and Driftwood at 5%. Despite Driftwood’s 16x growth, they were a much smaller brewery 5 years ago than Phillips.

Brewery Income Production (hl)
Red Truck 985213 3000
Cannery 1238733 3500
Central City 2508961 7500
Crannog 332799 1100
Dead Frog 1680211 5250
Driftwood 2653713 8100
Fernie 1134768 3400
Tree 5415175 16500
Granville Island 24732615 76000
Gulf Islands 308883 750
Howe Sound 1924350 5500
Hoyne 391032 1000
Lighthouse 4684083 14250
Molson 57240081 175000
Moon Under Water 67124 150
Mt Begbie 1484419 4000
Nelson 2383267 7000
Northram 10469291 31000
OK Spring 93446929 285000
Pacific Western 32725605 95000
Phillips 12142566 35500
Plan B 107520 400
R&B Brewing 1428113 4300
Russell Brewing 3682097 11000
Spinnakers 179447 500
Storm Brewing 375628 1300
Tin Whistle 472565 1350
Tofino 360314 1200
Vancouver Island 7689047 23500
Wolf Brewing 217347 650

Written by chuck

October 26th, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Breweries

Liquor Stores Go Mobile

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It was only a matter of time before the LDB decided to spend a chunk of their government funding and pay some local schmuck a metric assload of hard currency to crap out an iPhone app. I guess the only real surprise here is that it took them so long to do it.

The app is out, and it’s free. And thus ends the long list of positive things I can say about it, really. It makes a grand total of zero changes from their website, although I suppose storing the LDB database locally for faster searching is kind of nice, and the use of the location API on your phone to display local stores is also swell, but then again both of these things are available in desktop web browsers, so it really just points out the absence on the regular site.

Exactly like the website, the app is a portal into the LDB’s inventory database. A database that is helpfully updated Every. Single. Day–in its entirety–despite any changes very very likely having nothing to do with the products you’re after.

“But Chuck!” you say, “It’s just what you say it is. A mini-database of all cheap liquor available in the province… IN YOUR POCKET! Why don’t you love this?” Good question. Let me get my ranting cap on. Huh. Could have sworn I was keeping it by my pontificating pants… ah there it is.

And here we go. In list form, of course.

  1. First, and foremost, the inventory numbers are 2-3 (or more) days old. See that list of 3 bottles of Saison Dupont remaining? Well, that’s probable zero now, sucker.
  2. It doesn’t improve on the website in any measurable way. The website was already in my pocket, so I’m not 100% convinced of the benefit. Sure, the speed improvements that come from a native app will keep me using it in lieu of the website, but they could have done so much more. Perhaps they will, but somehow I doubt it.
  3. Since it’s just a raw viewer of the LDB’s database, it really lays bare their nigh contemptible attitude towards beer. Aside from the staples like producer, country, bottle size and price, wine has the following meta data attached:
    • Type (7 values)
    • Colour (3 values)
    • Varietal (>30 values)

    Beer, however, suffers from a lack of such attention. It has a lonely single form of meta-data (Type), which has one value (De-alcoholized). This is beer, after all, I guess the LDB figures the only information we’re really after is whether it’ll get us loaded or not, how much is it, and where do I get some.

  4. Again, much like the website, it focuses on a product-first approach to search. Find your product, get a price, then find out where to buy it. Now, this is is not always a bad idea.

    Hmmm…. $9.99 you say?

    However, I don’t always shop for beer like I shop for clothes (need jeans, go to jeans store, buy jeans, get the hell out of mall). I sometimes like to browse, and that means lingering in a store seeing what they have for sale that I might not thought of. However, the e-equivalent of this is not possible on the app. You can’t select a store and then see what beer they have available. Not possible.
  5. Again, because this is a raw view into the LDB’s database, we also suffer from their rather flat data structure. For instance, products are not grouped into hierarchical categories, e.g. Booze -> Beer -> Wheat Ales -> Driftwood -> White Bark. Rather, the db is sadly organized around their SKU, kind of like a SIN for booze. Thus instead of the human friendly and informative list above, we get: Booze -> 186718. And this is apparent.
  6. The “Showcase” button there is just a summary of the current banner promotions on the website, and you will likely never click it more than once. Again, their current “Craft Beer” button is pretty indicative of their view on the matter. While I do appreciate that this is very likely the first time they’ve ever highlighted craft beer, doing so by shining the spot light solely on mixer boxes is a bit insane.

Huh. I just realized that every single one of those points is a fault with the LDB’s system, and not the app itself. So I guess I don’t really have a huge problem with the app, aside from it only providing a thin venire on a weak backend.

There *is* one iPhone-y feature worth talking about, if only to point out how sucky it is. The app has the ability to scan a bar code of a liquor product, and display that item’s page, if found. At first blush, this sounds like a great feature with lots of wow-factor, and I’m 100% positive that this is how it was sold at the kick-off meeting for the project.

That no one pointed out the obvious saddens me. The prerequisite for using this feature to find the liquor is holding the fucking bottle in your hand. You’ve already found it, and presumably drunk most of it. You have enough information in your bloody hand to find the LDB’s entry without resorting to a flashy camera-based scanner that, in all likelihood, won’t work given the typical lighting under which I am normally intrigued by liquor products I haven’t heard of before.

There is lots of info on the website that somehow never make it into the app: Tasting events at the 39th store, drink and food recipes, and even wine and mixed-drink reviews (notably no beer reviews). The website also has a list of consultants, which stores they work in, and a nice little quote from each on how much they love The Sauce. (Again, this page uses the word “wine” 32 times, and “beer” twice). All of this is saved for people with computers.

Then there’s the info that is missing from both places. What about new arrivals? In-store product samples? Marked down specials? Rare or seasonal items that are about to go out of stock? How about an ability to do bulk orders without involving a remote meat puppet in order to type six numbers into the computer at 30-odd dollars an hour? Or any slight improvement over the treatment of beer as a bulk commodity product that no serious connoisseur could possibly take seriously. LDB, BC is one of the foremost areas in North America when it comes to craft beer, perhaps it’s time you took the segment seriously and hired someone to promote it (in completely unrelated news, I’m available. Wink. Wink. Ok, fine, Bribe. Bribe.)

Alas, this app is as good as it’s going to get. I know how these contracts work: it’s a one-off budget item in a single fiscal year with perhaps a rider for small maintenance/bug fixes. A second revision is many years out, as any suggestions will just be met with “but we just did that” in the budget review.

Written by chuck

August 12th, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Posted in Beer and You

Tagged with

What Could Be

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I found myself in North Vancouver this weekend. After spending some time to ponder my situation and question every decision I had ever made in my life (since it led me to this horrible, horrible low point), I wandered over to Everything Wine and discovered that we Friends of Barley have much to be jealous of in terms of how the other half lives.

What in Gord’s sweet name am I rambling about, you ask? Everything Wine is a store that sells, well, everything related to wine. And while walking through its spacious and airy interior I found myself wondering why we have no such beast devoted to beer. Here are but some of their myriad benefits:

  1. Massive space, probably upwards of 7000sf
  2. Great selection of companion products, including serving ware, novelties, home brew kits, and good ole Random Shit
  3. Massive selection, including most titles carried by the LDB, and scads not
  4. If something is carried by the LDB, it is on offer for the same freaking price, if not less
  5. Buy 12 bottles and get a further 5% off
  6. For the truly lazy or permanently inebriated, they will even ship your order to you

Point 4 cannot be stressed enough, as it really does take the second-guess work out of patronizing a non-government store like Everything Wine. Sadly, rent is not always so cheap that these stores can afford to cut into their already thin profit margins by doing so, but at least this shows it can be done at all.

That an Everything Beer was not hiding around the corner saddened me deeply. I have no doubts that the local market could support such a beast, but we’d need the importers and local breweries to step up to the plate first in order to, you know, fill the damned thing with something.

A quick glance a the LDB website shows what I mean: 3,757 wine products in stock, 507 beer products. The imports are vastly skewed in favour of wine, but that is slowly changing. Beer-only or Beer-focused importers like BeerThirst and RainCity Brands are leading the way in getting us access to the >1500 breweries across the border to the south, and the thousands more in Europe that have yet to make their ways over here.

So, keep buying those crazy-good beers and they’ll keep replacing every sold out item with two more. Soon enough, you’ll turn around and notice that the Barley Barn has opened shop. (ooo… I’m registering that bad boy right now)

Written by chuck

January 18th, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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