New Brunswick

NB Liquor hopes growler pilot will spur craft beer growth

One month after NB Liquor became the first alcohol corporation in Canada to offer beer in growlers, more than 5,600 litres have been sold.

Customers can fill 1.89-litre jugs with craft beer from small and big breweries at 3 stores until March

One month after NB Liquor became the first alcohol corporation in Canada to offer beer in growlers, more than 5,600 litres have been sold.

But it's not all from small craft breweries in New Brunswick.

Craft beer from Moosehead, Molson and Labatt are also among the offerings at the three NB Liquor stores involved in the pilot project, said spokesperson Marcelle Saulnier.

New Brunswickers can get growlers filled at three NB Liquor stores in Fredericton, Dieppe and Rothesay under the pilot project, which is slated to run until March. (CBC)
Each location has three taps, offering craft products that are rotated weekly and typically range between $10 and $15.

The Fredericton store on Prospect Street is carrying PicaroonsLabatt-InBev and a so-called wildcard.

The Dieppe store on Regis Street has Pumphouse, Molson and a wildcard.

And the Rothesay store on Campbell Drive has Moosehead and two wildcards, Saulnier said.

The $10 varieties have proven the most popular to date, representing the bulk of sales at nearly 3,800 litres, followed by the $12 products, with 1,368 litres sold, and $15 products at 501 litres.

The stores have also sold about 1,200 growler bottles at $10 each, and have started allowing customers to bring their own 1.89-litre beer jugs, provided the NB Liquor cap fits the bottles, said Saulnier.

On Thursday, the first 100 customers at the three stores will receive a free empty growler jug.

Under the pilot, which is slated to run until March 2015, staff are available to fill growlers full-time Thursdays and Fridays, between 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and Saturdays from noon until 8:30 p.m.

“We are proud to be the first to offer this increasingly popular format to our customers,” NB Liquor president and CEO Brian Harriman said in a statement.

By offering this format and variety, we hope to see further growth and innovation to the category.- Brian Harriman, NB Liquor president and CEO

“The craft beer category has been continuously expanding over the past few years, in both selection and sales,” he said. “By offering this format and variety, we hope to see further growth and innovation to the category.”

The program was announced in July, after craft breweries voiced concerns over a new NB Liquor policy requiring new craft breweries to sell 10,000 litres of beer through the Crown corporation before selling beer at their breweries.

But Sean Dunbar, the owner of Picaroons Traditional Ales in Fredericton, has pointed out that many smaller craft breweries don't make enough to participate in the pilot.

Mitch Biggar, the owner of Railcar Brewing in Florenceville-Bristol, has said his company is among them.

NB Liquor officials have said the smaller craft breweries should not be discouraged.

The pilot will be re-evaluated in March.

NB Liquor officials have previously said if it proves successful, it could become permanent and be expanded from three stores to up to 15 locations.

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