Beyond the Pale Brewing Company is hosting a screening of Straight Up: The Issue of Alcohol in Ontario at the Orange Gallery on Thursay, August 29. Tickets are on sale at the brewery on EventBrite for $25.00 (plus fees) – beverages and snacks included!
We’ve travelled all over the world, and we are fans of good wine and especially tasty craft beers. We came to make this documentary with a lot of the same simple questions that many people have about the alcoholic beverage retailing system in Ontario. Why does it seem like there are a lot of products we see elsewhere that you simply can’t get in Ontario? Why is the same product in Ontario often so much more expensive than just across the border in New York or Michigan, or even Quebec? Why can’t we open a craft beer store of our own? Why does the Ontario government allow three foreign-owned companies to operate a near monopoly on 80% of the beer sales in the province?
As it turns out, none of the questions have simple answers. When we started digging into the issue, we found that Ontario has a unique history with regard to beverage alcohol regulation. It’s a touchy subject with a lot of people. Unlike France or California, where their wines are proudly consumed domestically and exported around the world as a cultural product as much as a beverage, in Ontario, the government preoccupation seems to be “control”. The market is also subject to a lot of restrictive and seemingly arbitrary rules emanating from multiple pieces of legislation and old government institutions. The retail environment is dominated by two entities: the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), and Brewer’s Retail Inc, or The Beer Store.