Craft beer is finally getting the Amazon treatment here in B.C.
Port Moody’s Twin Sails Brewing announced last month it was opening an online beer store, allowing anyone in the province to order its beer directly, and have it shipped right to their doorstep. As far as I can tell, it’s the first brewery in the province to do so.
While online beer stores are common in Ontario, they are almost unheard of in B.C. Why? Ontario’s ridiculously restrictive liquor laws mean that many craft breweries can’t get their products placed in stores, so they have to resort to direct sales. As archaic as B.C.’s liquor distribution system is, it’s light years more progressive than Ontario’s state-run quasi-monopoly, so getting beer on to store shelves here is nowhere near as difficult. As a result, breweries haven’t bothered to open online stores, until now.
“We got the concept from Ontario,” says Twin Sails co-owner and director of sales Cody Allmin. “It’s another revenue stream, so it just makes sense. Why wouldn’t we sell our beer online? The margins are better when we sell our own beer directly.”
For people all over the province who are limited by the one B.C. Liquor Store in their town that’s stocked to the brim with macro swill and little (if any) craft options, this is a godsend. Everyone in B.C. now has easy access to Twin Sails beers.
And, if you’re thinking, big whoop, I live a block away from a super legit beer store, I can get my hazy double IPA fix around the corner, Allmin says Twin Sails is going to be offering limited edition, small batch brews you won’t find in stores.
“We do a lot of tasting room only releases and this is a way to get those beers to people outside of the city,” says Allmin. “A lot of these beers never even make it to stores.”
So, how does it work? I ordered a bunch of beer last week to find out.
I placed my order online at Twin Sails’ website on a Monday and by Thursday I had a box of slightly chilled beer and a fully intact long-stemmed glass in which to drink it. Easy peasy. Canada Post requires you to sign for the package and in theory they’re supposed to check your ID to make sure you’re of age (even though my mail carrier didn’t, but she knows me and it’s sadly really obvious that I’m not 18 anymore).
Shipping for 10 tall cans of beer was about $16, which seems steep, but it gets comparatively cheaper the more you order, conveniently. As far as I could tell, the cost per can is only slightly higher than if I had actually left my house and bought the beer in person, like some sort of peasant.
Other breweries have taken note: Pitt Meadows’ Foamer’s Folly Brewing Co. recently announced it plans to add beer to its online store in short order. I hope more breweries follow suit, and so does Allmin.
“It’ll normalize the idea of shopping online for beer,” he says.
- The Winter 2018 issue of The Growler is out now! You can find B.C.’s favourite craft beer guide at your local brewery, select private liquor stores, and on newsstands across the province.