Its been crazy times here at the brewery in the last couple weeks. Folks are trying out the growlers and hopefully some have found it a more acceptable serving format. All packaging formats have their downsides, but if the worst is that I've got to finish the whole bottle in a day or two, I think that's acceptable.
Lets go over why growlers are important for the Manitoba craft brewing industry. The long and the short of it is this:
If a new brewery was to open tomorrow, there'd be no need for them to buy expensive bottling or canning equipment. There'd be no need for them to have a million labels printed, truckloads of cans for their warehouse, no need for expensive box stocks, or even 6 pack trays. No need for a huge delivery truck, etc etc. They can keep the overhead low, which makes it easier to start a brewery given the huge capital expense of start-ups in the first place.
What they would need is a brewery, some kegs, a small van, and a few folks to run that brewery. The Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries can sell their beer because it will be brewed locally, and they have stated that their mandate is to support and grow the industry for real, bricks and mortar breweries producing beer & employing folks in the province.
When this fictional brewery's beer catches on, they'd need more tanks, maybe a second van, and more people to run their brewery.
When the ML&L decides to expand growler availability to all of their stores, those same brewery owners might need more tanks, to trade in the two vans for a larger truck, and more people to run the brewery. AND, they still haven't had to sell a drop of beer out of province.
Are you starting to see the benefit of growlers for Manitoba?
The average age of the brewery folks at Half Pints is around 30. We've got 12 employees full time producing beer, delivering, bottling etc. That's 12 people who decided not to move to Alberta, BC, or even Saskatchewan like I had to when I graduated from brewing school.
Manitoba has lots of room for growth in the craft brewing industry. Hopefully this is just one of many steps to fostering the growth in the future.