Encouraging Good Beer North And South

A couple items in the news caught my eye this week, one from here in Ontario and one from New York to our south. Up here the news is this:

The LCBO’s redesigned and relocated Laird and Eglington location in Toronto will showcase a new 1625 sq-ft cold room boasting a prominent craft beer section spanning up to 160 linear feet of shelf space. Craft beers will be arranged by beer styles (ie. IPA, Stout, Lager, etc.).

That’s a relief. I was worried it would be arranged alphabetically or by the primary colour on the cap. Basically, the provincial monopoly on better drink is opening up one new store and it will have a bit more space for good local beer. Fabulous. 13 million Ontarians. 160 feet of shelf space. It’s the subject of government press releases. By way of contrast, the law down south in the State of New York is aiming to spread the goodness of good beer a bit more broadly according to this news item:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says 14 local farm breweries have opened statewide as a result of legislation that took effect in January. The law created a farm brewery license for those who rely heavily on locally grown farm products for their beer. Under the farm brewery license, brewers do not need an additional permit to serve beer by the glass.

While there is still concern that not all the breweries that open do not actually hire that many staff, it is clear that this great law is opening up new meanings for real and local when it comes to NY beer. And creating rural employment and wealth. Heck, they are even letting farm stands sell nearby wine as a means to boost jobs in small communities. I suspect a lot of this is due to the guidance of departing Ag Commissioner Darrel Aubertine, my near neighbour over the lake, a guy with whom I did once sit and have a beer. Practical laws to use good beer to generate wealth.

Do the changes to our south make the news up here worthless? Not exactly, but it sure puts things in perspective. Notice how lobby groups need to be involved, masses spent up here on updated retail space. Swankification. In New York, farmers are freed up to seek a share of the market, to expand it. Which makes better economic sense? Which speaks better of the government’s attitude to its own citizens?