Thursday, May 19, 2011

Freedom Comes to Manitoba

After the election I took the train to Belgium for a week and binged on beer and waffles. Hung out at the Delirium Cafe in Brussels, a famous beer bar with a phone book beer menu (over 2,000 bottles) and spent a massive amount of money that I should have been saving for my upcoming wedding. Belgium, like the UK, gets me a little depressed about the state of liquor distribution in Ontario.

In the tiniest of corner stores here in London I have my pick of a dozen quality bottled ales, cheap as dirt table wines, and the usual macro lagers. In Belgium I could go into a grocery store and find some of the tastiest beers on the planet, in one I even found a bottle of the Trappist beer Westvleteren 12, considered by some to be one of the best beers on the planet.

While I doubt that Manitoba will measure up to London or Brussels in the near-term, it looks like they're taking a step in the right direction and will be testing the sale of wine and beer in grocery stores in the province.

Meanwhile, Ontarians will continue to make due with the LCBO and the beer barons of the US and Belgium, who continue to hold our beer distribution system hostage in the name of Ontario "values".


  1. Isn't that sort of the irony though? You can find more access to beer in Belgium, the country from whom the beer conglomerates lobby incessantly the Ontario government for market protection as well as monopoly over Brewer's Barons eer I mean, The Beer Store. The double-edged sword though is that the LCBO is a major cash cow for government revenues in Ontario. Still, I have been way out in rural areas where the LCBO has licensed their distribution to some gas stations. I cannot see why they cannot just extend that to certain convenience stores. The LCBO can still function as being able to provide expansive distribution of alcohol while still improving access and not losing government revenues.

  2. The LCBO isn't actually the one that gets me seeing red. They've actually raised their game recently, brought in some pretty good beers (with guaranteed access throughout the province) and started doing limited releases in cities with high demand. They're starting to take beer seriously.

    It's not the LCBO that stands in the way of, say, boutique beer stores like one finds in Gatineau. It's lobbying from the Beer Store. It continues to hold a gun to the head of Ontarians with bizarre threats about recycling and social responsibility. More beverage freedom for Ontario and they're taking their ball and going home. It really is the most grotesque market set up I can think of anywhere for anything.

  3. my upcoming wedding

    Whoops! I obviously missed the announcement. Congratters!