TORONTO—Ontario’s Beer Store just got significantly hoppier.
The Ontario government and the Beer Store have finalized and signed an agreement opening ownership in the retailer to all Ontario-based brewers. The Beer Store has also committed $100 million in capital spending over the next four years to enhance customer experience, promised to cordon off more space in each store for craft brewers, and increased the number of free listings for craft brewers near their breweries while reducing fees at other locations.
“The Beer Store has always been proud of its roots in Ontario as a retail cooperative that supports brewers and brings value to consumers,” Beer Store president, Ted Moroz, said. “The open and inclusive Beer Store continues to welcome all brewers to sell their products.”
The decision to open ownership in the retailer, as well as a number of other changes to the way alcohol is sold in the province, followed advisory council recommendations spearheaded by formed TD Bank CEO, Ed Clark. The initial framework for the agreement was laid out last April.
“It has taken considerable time and effort to get to this point, the challenges and complexity were considerable, but the finished product represents a step change for the craft beer industry,” Brick Brewing president and CEO, George Croft, said.
Brick Brewing is Ontario’s largest Canadian-owned brewery, selling the Laker line as well as the Waterloo craft beer label.
“This is a great day for beer drinkers and beer makers in Ontario. There will be more choice. More convenience. And more brewery jobs,” Croft added.
Though beer drinkers and craft brewers alike welcome the changes, many continue to call for the further liberalization of Ontario’s strict alcohol regulations.