Alberta Craft Liquor Producers Tapping Success

Alberta Craft Liquor Producers Tapping Success

Good things were brewing from Alberta’s craft liquor producers in 2017, as the government’s partnership with the industry resulted in new jobs and more choice for consumers.

During the past year, government worked with the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, liquor producers and the hospitality industry to cut red tape, increase market access for Alberta-made products and support job growth. In addition, the Alberta Small Brewers Development Program contributed to nearly 780 jobs in the small brewing industry and the addition of 513 new beer products made in the province.

“Alberta’s farmers grow the best grain and now more Alberta brewers and distillers are taking advantage of that to make the best beer and spirits. Our government is proud to support a successful and growing industry from grain to glass as they broaden job opportunities, help diversify the economy and make great products.”

~Joe Ceci, President of Treasury Board, Minister of Finance

“It is great to see that the craft brewing industry in Alberta is obviously flourishing. I’m also happy to see the number of jobs that have been created as a result of this increase.”

~Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

In December, government reduced the liquor markup on products from small distilleries and cideries in Alberta sold at farmers’ and artisan markets, or their manufacturing facilities. The cost savings for producers will support growth and diversification of the industry.

Other changes in the past year to improve experiences for consumers and provide manufacturers more opportunities to showcase their products include:

  • Easing restrictions on patios for licensed restaurants and bars.
  • Creating a new taproom licence that allows producers to offer onsite food service, events and entertainment.
  • Allowing small producers to operate licensed restaurants or bars at a separate site.
  • Permitting the sale of Alberta craft beers and spirits at approved farmers’ markets alongside cottage wine.
  • Providing a $60,000 grant to the Alberta Small Brewers Association to help develop and promote the province’s local beer brand.

“We believe brewing has the potential to be a signature Alberta industry. We look forward to continuing our work together with government and stakeholders from every corner of the province to continue to drive interest, investment, tourism and great new jobs while brewing up tasty beverages for Albertans, visitors and export markets to enjoy.”

~Terry Rock, executive director, Alberta Small Brewers Association

The growth of Alberta’s liquor industry also supports agricultural producers and rural communities. Alberta is renowned for its high-quality malting barley, representing nearly half of Canadian malt exports annually. Growers also established the Alberta Hop Producers’ Association in 2017 to support their burgeoning industry.

“Exceptional barley makes exceptional beer, and Alberta barley farmers sustainably produce almost two million tonnes of world-class malting barley every year. With the precise growing climate and with two world-class maltsters, Alberta brewers are uniquely positioned to source one of the highest quality barleys right from their backyard. The expansion of craft brewing in Alberta helps keep our barley local, increasing the demand for malt acres while supporting the local economy.”

~Jason Lenz, chair, Alberta Barley

“One of our founding members, Northern Girls Hops in Darwell, has had great success building relationships and selling their entire harvests to Alberta craft brewers. The Alberta government’s changes to brewing regulations have contributed to the proliferation of craft brewers across the province and that’s contributing to the growth of the hops industry.”

~Wade Bendfeld, president, Alberta Hop Producers’ Association

Quick facts

  • The small liquor manufacturing sector is growing in Alberta, with 21 spirits manufacturers from 19 communities across the province.
  • One year after the introduction of the Alberta Small Brewers Development Program, the number of small brewers has grown from 45 to almost 60.
  • In that time, the amount of beer that qualified for the program and was sold in Alberta has grown by 27 per cent—an increase of about 20 million bottles of beer.
  • The number of graduates from the Olds College brewing program has increased by 62 per cent since September 2016.