Kingston, Ont., craft beer brewers excited for policy changes

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Kingston, Ont., craft beer brewers excited for policy changes
With a major shakeup coming in Ontario alcohol sales in 2026, Kingston craft brewers shared some of their thoughts – Dec 28, 2023

Alcohol sales in Ontario will expand to more grocery stores and even convenience stores, similar to Quebec, by 2026.

Ontario’s massive shift in the alcohol sales landscape could mean a big boost for small craft brewers.

The ears of craft beer brewers and small distillery owners across the province perked up earlier this month when the provincial government announced that plans are in motion for alcohol sales to expand.

For owners of smaller breweries like Adam Rondeau at Daft in Kingston, it could be the next big step.

“It’ll just add a few more sales channels for us, we’ll be able to develop more relationships, potentially give us a good control over the product that we have out there,” said Rondeau.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Spearhead Brewery CEO Trevor Lehoux.

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“It just means that we have the ability to get into new markets, test our products in different areas that maybe we couldn’t get into before,” said Lehoux.

Depending on the fine details, as they’re worked out, it could be a big relief on the pocketbook too.

Both brewers say that Ontario craft brewers are heavily taxed when getting their alcohol into the LCBO.

“It’s good exposure, but you don’t make a lot of money doing it because of the amount that they squeeze you on your profit margins,” added Lehoux.

Another item of note for Ontario brewers is the process it takes to get your drinks on the shelves.

Both brewers said that the process can be tedious and arduous, something they’re hoping to see changed when the new framework comes into effect.

“I’d just say less hoops to go through. If it was that simple, if there was less time restrictions, administrative hurdles and also ding on your profit,” said Rondeau.

Many of the rules and regulations in the current framework go back to prohibition or beyond.

Both brewers say that it’s time for a refresh, something Lehoux says would be good for everyone, non-brewers included.

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“When we’re making the kind of money that we should be making, it means that we’re hiring more people, we’re growing, we’re expanding, we’re putting a lot more of our hardworking dollar bills back into the economy,” he said.

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