NB Liquor reverses new microbrewery rules

NB Liquor has reversed a controversial new policy requiring small craft breweries to sell 10,000 litres of product through the Crown corporation, but has implemented some other changes to ensure safe, quality products.

Craft breweries won't have to sell 10,000 litres through Crown corporation before selling on-site

NB Liquor has reversed a controversial new policy requiring small craft breweries to sell 10,000 litres of product through the Crown corporatoin before opening an on-site store.

Rodney Savoie, the owner of Savoie Brewpub in Charlo, had said his company's future was uncertain under the microbrewery rules NB Liquor had imposed. (CBC)
The decision was announced on Friday, following an outcry from microbreweries that their future could be jeopardized under the new rule.

"I am pleased that the board of directors has approved these changes and I look forward to working with all brewers in New Brunswick to promote the craft beer industry,” NB Liquor president and CEO Brian Harriman said in a statement.

“This regulation was put into place to ensure product quality, however, after discovering it may be a barrier to new breweries, it was removed.”

Product must be tested

Instead, all new brewers will now be asked to send a product sample to an independent food inspection lab to ensure they are producing safe, high quality beer and selling it responsibly, said Harriman.

Smart Serve training will also be required for all staff, he said.

But NB Liquor will cover the costs of both of the new requirements, Harriman said.

“NB Liquor looks forward to seeing continued growth in the craft beer segment going forward," he said.

It was just two months ago that NB Liquor’s board of directors had approved the new policy requiring craft beer start-ups to sell 10,000 litres of beer through the Crown corporation before obtaining a Brewery Agency Store (BAS) licence.

A BAS allows brewers to sell their products from their brewery for off-site consumption by individual consumers or restaurants.

Microbrewers, such as Mitch Biggar, who owns the Railcar Brewing Company in Florenceville-Bristol, had argued the new rule would hinder start-ups because bigger and more expensive equipment would be required to meet the quota.

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