Looking for a Kinder, Gentler Beer Drinker

With binge drinking and bar violence on the rise, the Province of Alberta has made some policy changes that it is hoping will curb public drunkenness.

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission has amended policy that will no longer allow for extreme “cheap drink” specials, extended happy hours and large drink orders past 1 a.m. Also, minimum drink prices for spirits, wine and draft, bottled and canned beers have been raised, all with the idea of decreasing bar violence in mind.

Immediately, criticisms of the new legislation have surfaced. Many feel that drinkers will just stay home longer into the evening and drink before venturing out to the bars. Others say that those causing problems in and outside of bars are not those who attend happy hour for drink specials.

Still others are wondering: “Where can I find a 16-ounce pint for the minimum of $2.39? Finding a pint priced like that is like spotting Sasquatch!”

As the Yukon Brewing Company sends many of its brands to Alberta bars and restaurants, is the hike on minimum prices cause to sound an alarm? Surely our customers don’t contribute to any rowdiness anyways.

While it would be irresponsible to say that no one drinking our beer has been involved in any loud or robust behaviour (although we sure hope our customers are keeping their collective nose clean), the news out of the AGLC will probably not affect prices on Yukon beer in Alberta.

In fact, most patrons probably will not notice a difference in bar pricing on the whole. It is true that it is hard to find beer in Alberta — the Yukon or anywhere else — that is sold for under $3.50 per pint or bottle and that is a cheap beer in most instances.

Anything from $4.50 to $7.00 seems to be more the norm. With margins still very good for bars and restaurants on liquor, wine and beer, it is hard to say if any price increase will take place. In reality, the only shift will probably be to sell less discounted drinks.

Still, it will interesting to see if the measures enacted by the AGLC will be enough to diminish bar-related skirmishes or violence in Alberta. Let’s just hope that the price for an after-work pint on the patio doesn’t increase beyond our means because a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.

This column is courtesy of the Yukon Brewing Company, an organization that produces a product worth freezing for … not fighting over.

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