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Saskatchewan’s Beer Revolution

sask flagOn this site I have recorded the growth of Saskatchewan’s beer scene (as well as Alberta and Manitoba), so regular readers will know that on the prairies, Saskatchewan has had the most impressive jump in its number of craft breweries.

That growth didn’t go unnoticed and so my editors at Planet S/Prairie Dog recently asked me to do an account of that transformation. You can read the entire article here.

The individual pieces of the story – the opening of Prairie Sun, Nokomis, Black Bridge, Rebellion and others – have been accounted for. But only once you put the plotline in one place do you start to see how impressive it all is. Saskatchewan went from two breweries and two legitimate brewpubs three years ago, to more than a dozen today. That is pretty fast growth. And it happened without any real change in government policy or the macro-environment.

There have been some failures – Brecknock and Bin Brewing to name two – but the successes far outweigh the failures. In general, the climate seems positively inclined to homegrown breweries in Saskatchewan.

I realize we are seeing this all across the country. B.C. and Ontario have had a new brewery open almost every week for the past two years. Nova Scotia has tripled the number of breweries in a couple of years. Alberta is starting to take off, with a dozen breweries in the planning stages (some of which I have profiled and other pieces coming in the next few weeks). Even Manitoba, which ranks last in breweries per capita, is starting to see some action.

Clearly craft beer is exploding in our country. But that doesn’t make the rapid expansion in Saskatchewan any less impressive. I like to consider it great news – evidence that the craft beer wave is reaching every corner of the country.

I fully expect to see more Saskatchewan breweries in the coming years. Maybe not at the pace we experienced in the last two, but the growth will continue. Which is a very good thing.

3 comments to Saskatchewan’s Beer Revolution

  • Bob

    This is indeed great news, as you say. The beer world continues to grow.

    Dark clouds on the horizon, however, if SLGA does not have a hard look at their markup scheme. As it stands, you are considered mid-size once you hit an annual production of 5,000 hl. At that point, the markup added to your product is not much less than the markup added to the big guys’ products. So, while at 5,000 hl you are miles from the economy of scale of a large brewer, your beer is priced such that you have the choice between low margins or high shelf prices.

    Just for comparison, the tier that defines a small brewer in BC is 15,000 hl (and goes up slowly as you pass through that level) and in Alberta is 20,000 hl.

    It would be proactive for SLGA to have a hard look at the appropriateness of that level and/or at the magnitude of the increased markup they collect, before some of their local brewers are passing through it…

    • beerguy

      That is a really good point, Bob. Compare that to B.C., who now has a fully graduated set up for medium sized breweries all the way up to 350,000 hl.

  • Mark

    The SLGA is doing a 3rd party review right now, and production limits are included in the scope of the review.

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