In June, the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation (NBLC) introduced a regulation requiring craft brewers to sell 10,000 liters of beer through NBLC liquor stores before the government would issue them a Brewery Agency Store (BAS) license. NBLC’s CEO Brian Harriman argued, “The intention of the threshold before being allowed to sell growlers is not to stifle entry into beer or to force product through our system. It is to ensure people entering the category are able to financially support and produce quality products, which have consumer demand, and which are safe for the public.”
The BAS license is an important asset to New Brunswick’s craft beer industry, as it allows brewers to sell beer out of their establishment for offsite consumption. Yet, from the outset, it was unclear how the regulation was to improve New Brunswick’s craft beer industry and several brewers announced their discontent with it. The 10,000 liter threshold seemed arbitrary, and more importantly, the NBLC could not explain why mandating it was necessary for ensuring “quality products.”
Following weeks of debate, however, the NBLC announced it would reverse the new rules. Instead, the NBLC will require craft brewers to submit a sample of their product for quality testing at an independent clinic before obtaining a BAS license.
This development is seriously positive. First and foremost, it unburdens craft brewers in the province and allows them an opportunity to create jobs, generate wealth, and bolster tourism. More broadly, it demonstrates the government’s willingness to unshackle the economy. If elected officials and government agencies in the region wish to “stimulate” economic growth, perhaps they should follow suit and remove the shackles burdening other sectors of the economy: After all, the economic predicament facing Atlantic Canada may have less to do with stimulating the economy than it does getting out of its way.