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LCBO and Ontario Craft Brewers toast a long and successful partnership at Amsterdam Brewery’s North Toronto event space. January 2013

A Toast to 10 Years

LCBO and Ontario craft brewers celebrate 10 years of co-operation.

(JANUARY 2013)—It’s been a decade since the LCBO and Ontario Craft Brewers sat down together to brew up a strategy to highlight the quality craft beer being produced in the province. The relationship has been beneficial to both sides. Since 2006, Ontario Craft Brewers member sales at LCBO have jumped more than 400 per cent. To mark the anniversary, officials of both organizations gathered together for a meeting and tasting event at Amsterdam Brewery’s new location in North Toronto.

"We are very grateful for the positive relationship we share with our LCBO partners and with the respect and support they have shown our industry," says John Hay, president of OCB.

The meeting began with a round-table discussion moderated by John. It was a time to acknowledge all the hard work that has been done to make Ontario craft beer top-of-mind for LCBO customers, to pose questions about the future and, perhaps most importantly, to say thank you.

Bob Downey, senior vice-president, Sales & Marketing, said it seemed like yesterday that a small group called the Ontario Small Brewers Association approached LCBO looking for strategic planning advice. “We’re very proud to have been involved in the creation of a strategic plan that helped the province’s craft brewers secure important financial support from the government of Ontario and allowed us to become the ‘headquarters’ for Ontario craft beer,” Bob says.

“I think everyone appreciated the informal format of the meeting, which allowed us to be both complimentary and candid,” says Chris Robertson, director, Spirits & Beer. “When we compare where we started 10 years ago to where we are today, we truly couldn’t be happier. This industry is just getting started in some respects and we see great things happening in the next decade.”

Representatives of Amsterdam, Toronto’s first “brew pub” founded in 1986, conducted a tour of their new facility, which was followed by a beer and cheese tasting.

On display was the 2012-13 Ontario Craft Beer Style Guide, which lists every OCB beer by type (e.g. lager, ale, stout, seasonal), as well as another brochure entitled Ontario Craft Beers: Meet the Makers, which profiles brewmasters at a variety of Ontario craft breweries.

"The last decade has seen tremendous growth in our industry," says Gary McMullen, president, Muskoka Brewery and chair, OCB. "LCBO and OCB have worked together to build a strong, exciting, engaging craft beer category in stores across the province. We look forward to the next 10 years of growth and success."

 

 

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