FLORENCEVILLE-BRISTOL, NB – Atlantic Canada Beer Blog reports that a NB Liquor policy that could have shut down Railcar Brewing before it even opened is no longer a threat to the rural New Brunswick nanobrewery, although it may still impact other new brewery start-ups in the province.
As reported earlier this month, the new policy states that any brewery starting up in the province must produce and sell 10,000 litres of beer via the government-owned ANBL retail store chain within 12 months before being issued a license for on-site retail and direct sales. As most small breweries depend on direct sales of bottles, growlers and kegs for much of their income, this policy would have made it difficult for Railcar to survive and thrive.
Railcar Brewing owner Mitch Biggar and Stephen Dixon – who is aiming to open his similarly small Grimross Brewing operation in the fall – met with Brian Harriman, president and CEO of NB Liquor, last Tuesday. After the meeting, Harriman told CBC News that while the policy would still stand, NB Liquor was “going to work with [Biggar & Dixon] to ensure that they are not impeded at all in their start-up and that we can work with them to grow their business and grow the [craft beer] category here in New Brunswick.”
Harriman went into further detail when contacted by Atlantic Canada Beer Blog, confirming that Railcar (and presumably Grimross, although ACBB doesn’t mention them explicitly) will be grandfathered out of the new policy and “will be able to sell beer to the public directly from their first day of operation.”
“We have also agreed to have further discussion with New Brunswick microbrewers to see if there is a way we can achieve the governance we require, without creating undue barriers or pain for new brewers,” Harriman further states. “Consequently, we will continue to be open to discussion with the brewers to insure that we are promoting and stimulating growth of craft beer in NB and not the opposite.”
In the meantime, other proposed brewery start-ups remain concerned about the policy, as indicated by the CBC News segment filmed last Friday with Robert Black, who hopes to open A.W.O.L. Brewery later this year. Canadian Beer News will continue to monitor this issue, and will report on any further developments as they occur.