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Archive for the ‘John_Yap’ tag

The Chuck Standard

with 5 comments

It’s one thing to start a debate on a hot topic and another thing entirely to propose a solution. Recently there was a post and resulting, quality discussion here around how we should approach this proposed “Brewers Quality Alliance.” Lots of great details were posted by folks in the comments, and now I’ll repost those in a main article and take all the credit. You guys making blogging so very easy; thanks!

So, here is my proposal. BC LDB, are you listening to me? Is this thing even on? Not that it matters, this is now the Chuck Standard for labelling beer, and all subsequent standards will have to be discussed according to how they either did or did not improve upon or the Chuck Standard.

Chuck Standard for Retail Beer Packaging

(aka Brewers Quality Alliance Label)


The Chuck Standard is a consumer-focused standard aimed at providing purchasers of beer in the Province of British Columbia consistent, standardized information to allow informed, carefully considered purchasing decisions.

Uninformed, impulsive decisions can be reserved
for after you drink the beer
Yes, that is a Nic Cage pillowcase. Never sleep without nightmares again by clicking here

The Chuck Standard is defined and maintained by Consumer(s) (in this case, by Chuck, but I could use some help). Professional brewers, owners of breweries or holders of a Liquor Manufacturers license will have no say in defining and enforcing The Standard, due to conflicting interests.


In order to be eligible to display the Brewers Quality Alliance (BQA) label, a packaged product must contain all of the following information. The information does not have to appear in any specific format or layout.

  • Where the beer was manufactured
  • The company that manufactured the beer (holder of the Manufacturer license)
  • Alcohol by Volume
  • International Bitterness Units (note: an approximate range of 20 IBU is acceptable, e.g. 20-40IBU)
  • Beer Style (see below)
  • Ingredients, in order of prevalence, including:
    • Malts contained in this beer
    • Hops varietals contained in this beer
    • Yeast species used in this beer
    • Non-barley sugar sources for fermentation (eg Wheat, Rye, Corn)
    • Non-malts/hops/yeast ingredients (specifics not required, e.g. “spices” or “brewing salts”)
  • Package must indicate the following techniques used, if applicable:
    • Filtration
    • Pasteurization
    • Preservatives not listed in ingredients
    • Bottle conditioned
    • Barrel aging
    • Negative methods (eg Unpasteurized) are optional but encouraged
  • Production date, as accurately as possible (season of production is acceptable)

Additionally, the term “BC BQA” may be displayed on products that are produced in BC by breweries wholly owned by BC interests.

There ya have it, folks. Some BC brewers are already compliant with this standard while many are not. Attention BC Brewers: don’t wait for The Man to enact this stuff, go ahead and start printing your Chuck Standard Compliant labels today!

Feel free to borrow this

Note on Beer Styles

The goal of The Standard is to provide consumers with some indication of what is in a bottle without simultaneously impeding the creativity that makes BC beer great. For that reason, The Standard simply requires that style be stated as specifically as possible, and accurately reflect the product in the bottle.

Use of overly broad styles such as “Lager”, “Ale” simply “Beer” or even omitting a style entirely is non-compliant. Refer to the list of 2008 BCJP styles for guidance, but do not feel compelled to list a fully qualified style. Examples of style declarations that are compliant: “16E Belgian Specialty Ale”, “Belgian Specialty Ale”, “Belgian Ale with Spices”, “Northwest Belgian Ale” or “Belgian Ale.”

Qualitative style descriptors are non-compliant, e.g.: “Refreshing Belgian Ale” or “Superb Belgian Ale” except where historically included in styles (specifically “Best Bitter”).

When declaring a style that matches an existing BCJP style or category, ensure that your product can be defended as part of that style. Do not attempt to market an American IPA with undetectable IBUs, for instance. It will not be compliant.

Written by chuck

April 8th, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Posted in Beer and You

Tagged with

First Tidbit from the Liquor Policy Review

with 11 comments

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.

Pictured: “Selection”

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.

Written by chuck

November 28th, 2013 at 11:47 am

Posted in Beer and You

Tagged with

Where the Money Goes

with 5 comments

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).

Cue Graham With suddenly realizing why I’ve been asking him to spit in a petri dish recently.

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!

Pictured: Artist’s impression of LCLB tax/mark-up collection.

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.

Written by chuck

November 22nd, 2013 at 11:30 am

Posted in Beer and You

Tagged with