Distribution Still A Hurdle For Craft Brewers

(BlackburnNews.com file photo by Jason Viau)

This week marks Ontario Craft Beer Week, but despite government efforts, one local brewery says more needs to be done to make local craft beer more accessible to customers.

Co-owner of Forked River Brewing Company David Reed says the changes in the last few months in the government’s approach to craft beer sales are great, but distribution is still an issue for craft brewers.

“If there is a way to open up a chain or have another outlet of, say Ontario craft beer, even VQA wines, that would be of great help,” Reed says. “Or allowing breweries to open up an off-site retail store outside the brewery to sell product, even cross-sell other brewery’s products and get craft beer closer to the customers.”

He says there is always room for improvement and hopes the market continues to grow.

“People are taking the quality over quantity approach lately and trying to buy local,” Reed says. “Buy from somebody you know, not a big corporation whose headquarters are in another country – and we will focus on making quality, solid products.”

According to the provincial government, Ontario’s craft beer industry employs more than 1,000 people in direct brewery jobs.

“We’re a small company, we are Londoners, we are growing our business in London, we are employing more people in London, we’re making beer in London. People are excited to try that and try something different,” Reed says.

The LCBO’s craft beer sales increased over 36% from the previous year. The government is working to have beer available for sale in up to 150 grocery stores by May 1, 2017.