Friday, June 27, 2014

More Price Increases to Come for BC Craft Beer Drinkers?

Many in BC find themselves paying more for their beer this week than they did last week due to the BC Liberal Party's announcement of new minimum drink prices, which are now the highest in the country, but this may not be the last beer drinkers see for price hikes.

I have heard, though the grapevine, that the government is still planning on tying beer prices to alcohol content (ABV), in the name of public health and safety, because apparently us alcohol consumers just can't stop ourselves from over-consuming and we are all incapable of self-regulating.

Recommendation #18, in Parliamentary Secretary John Yap's BC Liquor Policy Review Final Report, submitted to Justice Minister and Attorney General, Suzanne Anton, states:
"LDB should consider tying minimum prices to the amount of alcohol (e.g., a beer with seven per cent alcohol would have a higher minimum price than a beer with four per cent alcohol)" 
When the new minimum price structure was announced last week, I thought maybe the Liberals were backing away from this recommendation, as I had heard from some reliable sources that Christy Clark and her crew were afraid of the public backlash related to increased liquor pricing, but that is obviously not true as the new minimum is taking its toll in those less affluent areas outside the Lower Mainland.

But if the info I received the other day is true, then those who enjoy some of the stronger beers out there on the market, which are usually craft beers, may be digging even deeper into their pockets to purchase those beers and not just in pubs and restaurants. If this recommendation is converted into policy, it will impact all beer, whether bought to be consumed in a licensed establishment or packaged product purchased to be consumed elsewhere,

It means growlers, which have escaped the new minimum drink price, will be impacted and depending on the policy and what it dictates some growler fills will increase.

Keep in mind this is 3rd-hand information and I have not had confirmed by the LCLB or LDB so this may not in fact be true. But if the government keeps caving to health advocates and anti-alcohol lobby groups, who are using scare tactics and meaningless statistics to try to get what they want, which is higher priced booze which is harder to access, I think this change to increase the price of stronger beers will become a reality.

No one knows exactly what is going to happen and when but after last Friday's happy-hour-minimum-price fiasco, I am very afraid of what what may coming down the pipe. The Liberals seem to like to pull these announcements out of a hat and the policies do not seem to be very well thought through in some cases, read booze in supermarkets.

CAMRA Vancouver has posted about beer-ABV issue and let their stance be known, which has shifted significantly sine the drink minimum announcement. Read what they have to say here.

I would recommend consumers get ahead of this. At the bottom of the CAMRA Vancouver post is all the contact information for government and the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch. If you want to let the Liberals know how pissed off you are with how they rolled out happy hour - and be clear that I am not against happy hour but with the minimum drink prices that were imposed - and want to head off any further price increases by letting them know enough is enough by e-mailing, tweeting.

If the beer consumers of BC do stand up and shout loudly, maybe we can make a difference.

One thing is clear, if we do not, we have no chance...

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