The Beer Store: Well past its best before date, without a shadow of a doubt.

The Beer Store: Well past its best before date, without a shadow of a doubt.


So when was that last time that you had a good experience at The Beer Store? Honestly? Think about it…

I have made a point of avoiding using The Beer Store for almost a decade now, for it was about then that I finally grew tired of its grotty, stinking, stuck-in-Soviet-Russia-era stores and its even grottier, surly staff.

Yes, I am aware that there are plans for some fancy Beer Boutique stores popping around the province, but we are basically talking about The Beer Store putting lipstick on a pig here. It’s exactly the same shit in slightly different packaging, a corporate strategy that they appear to be applying to an increasing number of facets of their infrastructure as its many failings are exposed on a weekly basis.

Whenever I read Toronto Star articles and see anonymous postings in the comment sections that actually defend The Beer Store, stating that they do a good job, I have to wonder as to whether they are Beer Store employees and/or paid shills. You see, I don’t believe that ANYONE has been happy with the services that the Beer Store provides for years.

Yes, that anachronism that is the government-owned LCBO has its fair share of problems, and we all know about those, but compared to the decrepit government-sanctioned private foreign-owned oligopoly that is The Beer Store, the LCBO comes off looking pretty damn good. Indeed it appears that perhaps at last the province is going to step in and change a few things, and it’s about bloody time.

Hopefully these inklings of change are not just posturing on behalf of the Wynne government in an effort to appease the populace whose opinion of The Beer Store is at an all time low. I, for one, am looking forward to what this upcoming March budget brings with regards to a review/reform of The Beer Store and its quite frankly appalling stores, selection, staff, and service. As the man said, I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more. The dismantling of The Beer Store should be a prominent election issue in my mind.

When one looks at the recent desperate political move by The Beer Store to open up the market to smaller craft brewers, it was obvious to all but the woefully-ill-informed that it was very much a case of way-too-little, way-too-late. Sleeman, the third owner of the 448 outlet, 7,000 employee oligopoly, said that the upcoming changes would “improve the transparency and openness of The Beer Store for all Ontario brewers . . . and will allow our input into the evolution of the system.”

Utter bullshit.

This 11th hour concession to the burgeoning Ontario Craft Brewing community is nothing but smoke and mirrors. It was also made without any consultation with the Craft Brewers themselves. This utterly corrupt (non-profit my arse!) foreign corporate behemoth has seen that if they continue along the same path as they have been doing their days are numbered, as the crosshairs of public opinion are slowly focusing upon the men behind the curtain.

For many across the province it was only relatively recently they discovered that The Beer Store was not government-owned as they had believed, but an entirely foreign-owned entity ever since Molson, Sleeman, and Labatt sold out to Coors (USA), Sapporo (Japan), and Anheuser-Busch InBev (Belgium/Brazil) respectively. When that information became common knowledge thanks to the coverage of The Toronto Star, public support for The Beer Store went off the side of a cliff.

Trouble is certainly brewing for The Beer Store.

We’d love to hear your thoughts upon this topic in the comments section below.

P.S. I’d highly recommend that you have a read of this over at Saint John’s Wort.


Jamie DrummondEdinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he strongly feels that something has to give here.