Craft beer and spirits coming to provincial farmers market

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This will make some craft beer lovers attending the farmers market very hoppy; craft beer and spirits are coming to approved farmers and artisan markets starting Tuesday (Aug. 15) as part of a policy amendment from the Province that eliminates “unnecessary regulatory burdens on small businesses.”

Local brewers and distillers unanimously raised a glass to the announcement that will allow them to sell products alongside cottage wine, already approved for sale at these venues.

“Absolutely, I’m totally excited about it,” said Matt Widmer, an owner of Canmore’s Wild Life Distillery. “It raises people’s awareness of what we do and its uniqueness – it’s good for the craft product and business.”

There are 92 liquor manufacturers in Alberta and in the Bow Valley, including Wild Life, there are six: Grizzly Paw Brewing Co., Banff Ave. Brewing Co., RAW Distillery, Park Distillery and Canmore Brewing Co.

Rather than a logjam of competition, there is lots of business to go ‘round the valley’s robust craft beer and distillery scene, said Brian Dunn, founder and president of Canmore Brewing Co.

“Typically, you’re not really not competing against other craft breweries because there is such a large market for craft on its own,” said Dunn.

For craft beer and liquor sales to go forward at farmers markets though, it’s up to each individual approved markets to make it so.

The Town of Canmore, which owns the Canmore Mountain Market and contracts it out each season, has not spoken on the possibility of allowing craft and spirit sales just yet.

“There are currently no plans to have beer or spirits introduced at the Canmore Market,” wrote Adam Robertson, Canmore’s marketing and sales coordinator, in an email.

The Banff Farmers Market manager did not respond to the Outlook in time for publication.

Grizzly Paw Brewing Co. would potentially look at attending larger markets should a decision on local markets not be made this season.

“I feel farmers markets are big in Alberta,” said Kristina Cardinale, Grizzly Paw sales and marketing manager. “It’s just another way for local breweries to be showcased – we’d like to try it out in a few markets, maybe in Calgary, and partner with another local vendor.”

The main ingredient behind the policy change was giving small business owners the opportunity to widen their consumer base.

“This creates new business opportunities for entrepreneurs who are truly at the heart of this policy change,” said Joe Ceci, president of the treasury board and minister of finance, in a release.

To “better serve the industry,” the Province and Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission also announced a decision to streamline the licensing process by harmonizing licence classes and creating a small manufacturers licence type.

It would create a single licence that identifies brewing facilities and licensed establishments.

“This is a win-win for Alberta’s businesses and consumers and a positive development for the broader community as we all get a chance to discover and support more locally made products,” said Alain Maisonneuve, acting president and CEO, AGLC, in a release.

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