Raising A Cheer with Our Beer!

Congratulations to the Yukon government, in general, and to the Yukon Liquor Corporation, specifically, for passing regulations that put the new Liquor Act in play.

It goes a long way toward normalizing alcohol consumption in our lives.

We feel that a program of accepting the presence of alcohol in everyday situations, coupled with stronger disincentives toward situations where alcohol does not belong (driving, pregnant women, underage people and so on) is the right way for the future.

We are thinking about this a little more these days as we see the effects of increased taxes in Britain. In 2008, excise tax on beer was increased 18 per cent.

Since the tax was enacted, 2,000 British pubs have closed, accompanied by the loss of 20,000 jobs. In addition, a drink-tax escalator was invoked, which increases the tax on drinks by two per cent above inflation, starting this month.

An Oxford Economics forecast calculates that a further 75,000 jobs are at risk over the four-year implementation period of the drink-tax escalator.

And remember that, in Britain, when a pub closes, it is often not only the livelihood that is lost, but also the home.

It is obvious that public policies, whether they be in the regulatory regime that the liquor industry operates or on the financial side of the equation, have a huge impact on those of us in the business.

We are often asked about operating within such a highly regulated field in the Yukon. Quite frankly, we don’t find it a huge burden. We never expected it to be a “wild west”; after all, we understand the need for regulations with a product that, if abused, can become the root of problems.

So, while there is an occasional disagreement between us and the Yukon Liquor Corporation, normally we operate in an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding.

Of course, we say this after having been around now for over 12 years.

When the brewery started, I don’t think the Yukon Liquor Corporation quite knew what to make of us. After all, there had never been a manufacturer for as long as the Yukon Liquor Corporation existed. So, there were many more speed bumps in those first years than there are now.

We can definitely say we are looking forward to a bit of a new era in the Yukon, with the possibility of neighbourhood pubs. Of course, we feel that the local watering hole should have lots of local beer in it, although time will tell how that unfolds.

All we can say at this time is this: if and when new entrepreneurs come into the market, we look forward to working with you in any way that we can.

And welcome … it is a great industry to be in.

This column is courtesy of the Yukon Brewing Company, an organization that operates within the law … any law.

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