The growing popularity of craft beer products have prompted BC Liquor Stores to expand local offerings on their shelves.
As of November 30th, BC Liquor Stores are accepting up to 12 non-listed products from breweries closest to their location.
“The new BC Liquor Stores (BCLS) program takes effect on November 30th,” said Rocel Ramilla-Siquijor, BC Liquor Distribution Branch spokesperson. “That said, it will be up to microbreweries to decide whether they would like to participate and when, and which products they choose to propose at their local BCLS.”
The new program, which is coming into effect during the start of BC Buy Local week, offers microbreweries the opportunity to gain exposure. There are currently 102 microbreweries in B.C. that are eligible to participate in this program — which has almost doubled in the past five years from a mere 57 locations in 2011.
Arrowhead Brewing Company is currently sold at BC Liquor Stores stores in Invermere, Radium and Fairmont, and will soon be sold in Kimberley.
“We will be contacting other government stores in the East and West Kootenay to start carrying our beer as well,” said Jess de Groot, Arrowhead spokesperson. “The changes make it so much easier for small breweries to get their beer into the government stores. (Before) it was very difficult if you were a small brewery with small production to get into those stores because of the process of shipping and distribution, especially for those of us on the eastern side of the province. With these changes, small breweries can now get into their local shops without having to deal with the struggle of province-wide
It is estimated there are close to 200 BC Liquor Stores throughout the province.
“We do know that each BCLS location will accept at least one product from each of the interested microbreweries that meets the requirements,” said Ramilla-Siquijor. “The way it works is each BCLS is paired with the six B.C. microbreweries closest to their location that don’t currently have products listed with BCLS. If the microbreweries wish to have up to two of their un-listed products sold in the BCLS, they can apply to the store for consideration.”
Microbreweries are considered to be those that produce 15,000 hectolitres (1,500,000 litres) or less annually.
The goal, according to the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, is to help ensure there’s adequate shelf space for local microbreweries, which, in turn, helps the BC Liquor Stores introduce their customers to new, unique products. However, the government will occasionally be reviewing their offerings to ensure that products available on the shelves align with consumer demands.
According to De Groot, the local community’s ongoing support for Arrowhead products has helped the business gain momentum, and she remains optimistic it will continue in the future.
“A lot of store managers bring in what people request,” she said. “So if people throughout the East and West Kootenay ask their local government liquor store managers for Arrowhead, it helps get us in there tremendously. Local support goes a long way when you’re trying to get shelf space in such a competitive market, such as the B.C. craft beer scene.”