The government of British Columbia (BC) has announced a raft of major reforms to the Canadian province’s liquor licensing laws.
The new changes, announced earlier this month, are expected to make it easier for small and medium-sized BC breweries, wineries and distilleries getting their products to market.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported that the new rules do away with the old “tied house” rule.
The rules will now allow breweries and distilleries in particular to offer tastings and sell their products at on-site bars as well as create tie-ins with off-site venues.
BC’s minister for liquor, Rich Coleman, said that the updated laws were about, “eliminating outdated laws and trying new approaches to alcohol sales.”
Coming into force on 1 March, breweries and distilleries will be allowed on-site lounges and tasting rooms, small and medium-sized producers may have up to three off-site restaurant and bar partnerships and rules have been simplified surrounding the advertising of products in on-trade venues.
Further changes include: products produced with 100% BC raw materials may be sold without a markup and wine stores will become licencees under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act.
The news is particularly welcome for the wave of craft brewers emerging in the province.
Throughout 2012 a wave of new alcohol regulation swept through BC. Since April last year, theatres and cinemas could apply for a licence to serve alcohol, BC residents could import unlimited quantities of wine from other provinces and bring back an increased amount of liquor after trips to other provinces.
In July it was made legal for BC residents to bring their own wine to a restaurant and pay a corkage fee.
Last week the provincial government announced that catering companies would also be allowed to transport alcohol to events and hold a liquor licence – rather than their clients having to do so.
Coleman told CBC that the ultimate goal was to completely re-write BC’s alcohol laws.
“You know, I think after all of this, given time, we’ll probably take a look at the legislation and say it’s time to make a plain language re-write of this thing,” he said.
“But it’s a big job and so that would have to wait for another day, I wanted to get as much change as I possibly could.”