BC’s Storm Brewing Forced to Suspend Retail Sales to Private Individuals

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VANCOUVER, BCVanEast Beer Blog reports that due to miscommunication and red tape between two provincial government agencies responsible for different aspects of alcohol sales in British Columbia, veteran Vancouver craft brewery Storm Brewing has been ordered to immediately discontinue direct sales of its beers to private individuals.

According to the extensive article by Paddy Treavor, Storm had been selling kegs directly to non-licensees since it first opened in 1994, and had been given skus for these sales with the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB), the government agency that operates the BC Liquor Stores chain and also handles assignment of skus for direct retail sales at breweries. More recently, Storm’s owner and brewer James Walton decided to start offering growler sales, and applied for and received skus from the LDB, leading him to believe that the sales were approved.

However, following a recent visit by inspectors from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) – the agency that regulates liquor sales in the province outside of BC Liquor Stores – Walton was informed that due the legislation of brewery retail sales being transferred from the LDB to the LCLB in 2008, the brewery would have to apply for an in-store retail license, a ruling that he was not aware of, and which may take up to 6 months to be approved.

In the meantime, Storm has been barred from selling any beer to individuals or private event organizers, sales that Walton says make up 50% of Storm’s income. Keg sales to licensed bars and restaurants can continue, as they are covered by the brewery’s existing LCLB license, but may not be enough to keep Storm afloat while awaiting the new retail license.

For more details, see the full article on VanEast Beer Blog.

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