NB Liquor enters the growler game, brewing doubt
Pilot program in 3 stores runs until March
NB Liquor became the first alcohol corporation in Canada to offer beer in growlers this week, but already some craft breweries don't think it's a good idea.
The pilot program sells craft beer and mainstream brands in large jugs.
Picaroons' Brewtique in Fredericton has been selling the two-litre jugs since the store opened.
Growlers make up about 95 per cent of sales at the store, but owner Sean Dunbar doesn't anticipate NB Liquor's new program will succeed.
“It's kind of set itself up for failure,” he said.
Picaroons' is one of nine breweries that's been selected for the pilot program at three stores located in Fredericton, Rothesay and Dieppe.
But Dunbar points out that smaller craft breweries don't make enough beer to participate.
“The actual volume of beer that NB Liquor asked for was beyond what the small guys can make where they wouldn't be detrimental to their existing customers,” he said
Railcar Brewing Company in Florenceville is one of those smaller breweries. Owner Mitch Biggar says he won't be able to participate in the pilot project.
This isn't the first time a NB Liquor initiative has caused controversy this summer. A few months ago the Crown corporation announced a policy requiring breweries to sell 10,000 litres of beer through NB Liquor licensing. The policy has since been cancelled.
Biggar says he doesn't like the fact that mainstream labels like Molson and Moosehead are included.
NB Liquor spokesperson Marcelle Saulnier says craft breweries shouldn't be discouraged.
“We understand that they want to see how the program is developing, what they can expect as far as volume. We're more than happy to have that discussion and have them on board if they're willing,” she said.
The pilot program runs until March.
At that point NB Liquor will decide whether to keep the program or scrap it altogether.