Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Brewery Lounges and Beer Picnics

If things go according to plan you may soon be able to enjoy a nice afternoon of beer sampling and socializing at a brewery lounge, picnic area, or attend a wedding held at a local craft brewery.

The BC Liberal Government is currently asking for input from brewers and distillers as they are looking to change current laws to allow on-site sales and consumption of the manufactuer's products to bring them more in line with the freedoms and privileges wineries have enjoyed for years here in BC. Under current LCLB regulations, wineries can submit applications to have lounges, special events areas and picnic areas where patrons can consume wine they have bought on the premises while breweries and distilleries can only provide samples of products, which they have to give away, in tasting rooms. Breweries can apply for a license to sell their products at the brewery, in a store-like setting, but there is no allowance for consumers to enjoy these products they have bought on-site and there is no allowance for special events to be held on the brewery premises.

According to the LCLB Consultation Document, entitled Expansion of On-Site Sales and Patron Consumption Opportunities for Manufacturers, "the proposed expansion (of the laws) described here (in the document) mirrors many of the opportunities that have been afforded to wineries over the years." The document goes on to say the government allowed wineries these liberties "to help support wineries market their products and enhance the customer experience."

If allowed, there will be an application process, similar to getting a liquor primary license, that will have to be navigated and it is hard to predict just how difficult the LCLB will make it for breweries and distilleries to obtain these on-site perks at their facilities. I don't know about distilleries, but many of the existing breweries I have seen do not lend themselves well to having designated picnic or special events areas and would have to undergo major renovations to have on-site lounges but it will allow for those opening breweries in the future to take these possibilities into consideration when choosing a location/building for their breweries.

This consultation is a rare admission by the Provincial Government and the LCLB that wineries do get preferred treatment over breweries and distilleries here in BC. This consultation and proposal to change these laws is a start, a baby step in the direction of supporting the BC craft brewery industry as they support the wine industry. Let us hope there are many other changes to BC liquor laws in the near future that will allow breweries and craft beer lovers to have the same opportunities and privileges that wineries and wine lovers have here in this province.

It think it would be a lot of fun to be able to head out to your favourite craft brewery with a few friends to sample their beers in a lounge or outdoor picnic environment. It would be a great opportunity to taste beer fresh from the source and is a great tool to encourage and grow the local beer tourism scene.

So if you run a brewery or distillery and want to have your voice heard, or you have not received this consultation document, contact Melanie Golder of the LCLB at 1-866-209-2111 or melanie.golder@gov.bc.ca.



  1. I've been bugging them for a brewery tap for years. Then a brewpub doesn't have to have a special license.

    John Rowling

  2. Picnic area? How about a true beer garden? Be nice to have one of those instead of the typical beer cage made from portable fencing.

  3. John, they specifically mentioned in the document that this is not for brewpubs and that the request for input was for breweries and distilleries only.