Province allowing craft beer sales at farmers’ markets news to Oshawa, Whitby breweries doing it since spring

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Published October 16, 2021 at 4:41 pm

A news release issued late last week by the provincial government allowing the sale of craft beer at farmers’ markets is news to an Oshawa brewery co-owner who has been doing just that – legally – since the spring.

New Ritual Brewery co-owner and brewer Tim Ferriman said his brewery started selling beer on Saturdays at the North Oshawa Farmers’ Market in late June, six weeks or so after the brewery launched.

“It’s been legal since the spring,” he said. “The government sent out an e-mail to all the craft breweries.”

Whitby’s 5 Paddle’s Brewing also took advantage of the policy change and have been selling their ales at the Whitby Farmers’ Market at Celebration Square every Wednesday since the spring as well.

The new rules were announced in the 2021 Ontario Budget as part of the government’s commitment to support brewers, winemakers and distillers working in the province’s alcohol manufacturing industries and to help them respond to the impacts of COVID-19.

“Our government is committed to supporting job growth in communities across Ontario by standing up for our vibrant hospitality, alcohol and agriculture sectors,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “Providing local brewers with the opportunity to join wineries, cideries and distillers in selling their products at farmers’ markets is another breakthrough for the many jobs and families that are supported by Ontario’s diverse alcohol manufacturing industry.”

Allowing the sale of locally made craft beer at farmers’ markets builds on other measures to help businesses respond to COVID-19, including:

  • permanently allowing restaurants and bars to sell alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders, including mixed cocktails and growlers
  • reducing the minimum price of spirits consumed at licensed establishments to align with the reduced pricing introduced for takeout and delivery orders
  • allowing the length of time for temporary patio extensions to be set out by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
  • permitting alcohol service on docked boats with a liquor sales licence
  • giving licensed establishments and retailers more flexibility in using liquor delivery services

“Ontario’s local brewers play a key role in Ontario’s agri-food sector, supporting jobs and contributing to local economies across the province,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and MPP for Pickering-Uxbridge. “With this expansion of the farmers’ market program, our government is continuing to support businesses as they respond to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, while offering more choice and convenience for consumers.”

Licensed eligible brewers across the province can apply to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to “extend their on-site stores” to sell Ontario beer at farmers’ markets. Only brewers whose full brewing process takes place in Ontario at their own brewery are permitted.

Ontario Craft Brewers President Scott Simmons said allowing the sale of craft beer at farmers’ markets has been “a great next step in providing real choice for consumers” and more retail opportunities for locally owned craft breweries at this “critical time” for the industry.

“It has truly been a win-win for craft beer lovers and locally-owned craft breweries alike and we are raising a glass to this important change which has been good for local jobs, good for consumers, and good for our communities.”

Ferriman said New Ritual stopped attended the North Oshawa Farmers’ Market (located at the Delmark Homes Arena parking lot) last month when business began to slow down but said it was well worth the effort, especially for a brand-new brewery.

“It was good. It gave us another place to sell our beer.”

Photo by Candice Lootsma

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