The Craft Revolution – the importance of craft as economic driver
Reuben S. Mann / December 5th, 2016
It’s safe to say the craft beer revolution is exactly that. (Emphasis on revolution.) The industry is an agglomeration of bold entrepreneurship, artisan hops, devout patronage, and grassroots charisma that draws one in with refreshing candor; so much so that even the government is getting into the fray. The province of BC has augmented certain aspects of its liquor laws, a change that will undoubtedly shift our cultural and economic landscape. These changes have slowly created a more lax environment for the purchase and sale of alcoholic goods (including allowing the sale of liquor in movie theaters in 2012). The most recent change (and possibly the most important) allows all types of businesses to apply for liquor licenses excluding those operated out of vehicles and those who target minors. The potential implications of these changes to BC liquor laws lay further credence to the aforementioned craft revolution and the creative new possibilities they allow.
These minute changes in BC’s legislature have far reaching consequences and are already on the scope of community orientated businesses such as barbershops, salons, and spas. Effective January 23, 2017, art galleries, bookstores, cooking schools, and more have the opportunity to apply for liquor licenses, a change that would allow additional revenue sources and an enhanced customer experience. This softening of liquor laws won’t sacrifice consumer safety either as anyone serving liquor still needs to obtain the proper certifications already in place, including the province’s Serving-it-Right certificate. Not only does this change allow small businesses to engage in community building, it also creates distribution hubs throughout BC for craft beer, and in turn, more opportunity for small businesses to share their own brand experience in the form of a refreshing ale.
Though these new changes benefit small businesses that weren’t able to apply for liquor licenses the most, Destination BC is making sure that the craft breweries remain a focal point of their marketing endeavours through the development of the BC Ale Trail. Ken Beattie, executive director of BC Craft Brewers Guild and one of the members behind the initiative explains that the ale trail is a “partnership with Destination BC and 7 destination marketing areas across the province including Victoria, Nanaimo, Comox Valley, Sunshine Coast, Port Moody, Whistler, Kootenay Rockies East and the Kootenay Rockies West, including 33 breweries and 18 cities.”
Aptly named, the BC Ale Trail highlights tourism-related businesses while making the breweries the focal point of the trek. You can choose various travel methods including driving, walking, and cycling (depending on the region), the duration of the trail in days, the towns and tourism-centred businesses in the region, and an organized list of the breweries within each trail. The slogan “arrive thirsty, leave inspired” reinforces the craft industry as a focal point for tourism as and establishes the importance of craft and its effect on municipalities. Ken Beattie adds “we have great plans for 2017” and “are going after other breweries and tourist areas.” Perhaps we’ll be seeing the Fraser Valley Ale Trail up on their website in a few short months. Fingers crossed!