As many of you who already read this blog on a regular basis, you may already be aware of some of the recent changes in the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission‘s (AGLC) rules for breweries. Although many who are heavily involved and have invested interests in the beer scene already have complained that not enough has been done to address the complicated tax structure, home brewers like me are quite excited about one important thing: the removal of the minimum production requirements. Gone are the days when you needed to have the capacity to brew 50 HL (lots and lots of beer!) before the AGLC would even consider allowing you to open a brewery, unless you had a restaurant on premises. Another restaurant in Alberta? Well, unless you’re an amazing chef and have something new to bring to the table, you won’t last a year regardless of how awesome your beer is.
Effective immediately (as of December 2, 2013) as long as you’ve got the drive and determination, a few dollars, a couple of tanks and a space to lease, you can open a brewery! This now puts Alberta’s best and brightest (or most adventurous) brewers on a level playing field with our brethren in BC and Ontario. It seems every other week, there is a new brewery opening up in one of those two provinces. They’ve brought us amazing breweries like Phillips Brewing Co (Victoria, BC), Flying Monkeys (Barrie, ON) and Parallel 49 (Vancouver, BC). I believe these great breweries would not have been a success, nor would the brewers ever have attempted to open a brew house if they needed a 50 HL production minimum to get up and running. They believe, as many do, it’s easier to scale up than it is to scale down.
Being a member of the Calgary home brew club, Yeast Wranglers, there has been a lot of buzz around this piece and the first applicants for a new brewery happened to be local boys, Graham Sherman and Jeff Orr (owners of Tool Shed Brewing Co). The amount of people here that I know personally who can brew amazing beers are great in numbers, and I think that within the next few years, we will see a true “craft beer revolution”. With our bright minds, the influx of immigration and investment dollars flowing into our province, the new Brewmaster program at Olds College, and as a home brewer myself, I can’t wait to see what happens in Alberta.