Iqaluit microbrewery approved by Nunavut Liquor Licensing Board

The Nunavut Liquor Licensing Board has approved a permit for a microbrewery in Iqaluit, less than 24 hours after a public consultation.

Permit does not authorize direct sales to consumers or on the premises

The decision was expected to take weeks, but it took the Nunavut Liquor Licensing Board less than 24 hours to approve a permit for a microbrewery in Iqaluit.

The board held a public hearing Wednesday evening to consider the Nunavut Brewing Company Limited's application to start producing and selling beer in the territory.

A permit issued by Nunavut's Liquor Licensing Board will allow the Nunavut Brewing Company will sell its craft beers to the territory's Liquor Commission or export them outside of Nunavut. It does not allow direct sales to consumers or on the premises. (CBC)

City council approved the company's plan in July, but it still needed the go-ahead from the licensing board.

About a dozen people attended Wednesday's public meeting and not one of them opposed the project.

"This is the easiest public consultation I've ever heard," said board chair David Wilman on Wednesday.

In its written decision, the board said it deliberated on the application and, with no objections received, decided to approve it.

It pointed to the fact that the Nunavut Brewing Company intends to employ up to 10 local residents in its operations.

"We're very pleased with the board's decision and are excited to move forward now that we have approval," said Sheldon Nimchuk with the Nunavut Brewing Company.

Sales will not be direct to consumers

The board said the company will sell its craft beers directly to the Nunavut Liquor Commission or export it outside of the territory. 

"The brewery permit does not authorize sales direct to consumers from the premises or sales on the premises," the board said.

Nimchuk says he is going to request a meeting with the Liquor Commission to discuss getting authorization to sell beer directly to customers. He hopes to meet with them within the month. 

"If we get permission, we would like to distribute our beer on site, in part for environmental reasons, and to offer the consumer the option of drinking their beer at home," Nimchuk says.

The board said its decision is in line with recommendations from the territory's Liquor Task Force in 2012  "to reduce alcohol related harm by encouraging Nunavummiut to drink lower alcohol content beverages, such as beer and wine," Wilman said.

At the hearing, Nimchuk said a portion of the profits would go to promote responsible drinking.

He said he expects the construction period will be between six and eight months, and estimates the cost of the project at $2 million to $3 million. The company is working on a financing plan with a group of investors. 

Nimchuk hopes to have the first product on the market by July 2017. 

"We want the brewery to be the first thing people see when they arrive from the airport into town."

Nimchuk says his group will hold a contest on social media to come up with original names for the beer products. He says they may make some beers with local berries.

In the meantime, the Nunavut government has still not announced if a beer and wine store will open in Iqaluit. The legislative groundwork has been done and now will be up to cabinet ministers to decide if the store opens its doors.