Before I get attacked, I want to state that craft alcohol in Alberta would not have ever got to where we are today without a group of strong independent stores willing to hand sell our wares and educate their customer base as proxies of the producers. For that I am thankful, these independent stores are some of my favorite for selection and staff. I love going into a small store, knowing the staff, talking shop and then asking for what they are into at moment. The downside to these stores is there are only so many of them and space is limited resulting in well curated often rotating shelf space. Great model that works well but there is something to be said for finding your go-to beer consistently regardless of where you are. For this I am thankful for the buy into Alberta made products from some of the larger chains in our province.
Liquor Depot recently ran out their Alberta Beer Door program which has a list of Alberta beers curated by their beer director. This program has been rolled out to most of their stores in the province and now those same beers can be found all over regardless of the store you visit. Consistency is convenient and it is amazing exposure for us in the beer business in Alberta.
Sobeys Liquor features a local brewery in each of their weekly flyers and has recently released an Alberta beer full page flyer with products from all over the province on sale and featured. Bonus: Air Miles are awesome. These flyer programs offer that same product availability as the beer door. Consistently having Alberta craft beer available at all their stores around the province gives the industry piles of exposure and a great avenue for growth.
Co-op Liquor Stores around the province have also been early adopters of local product on the chain level. There is a little more variance from store to store as there are different Co-op groups but rest assured you can get fresh Alberta beer at any Co-op Liquor Store you go to in Alberta. Co-op often also has one of the most competitive price points consistently across the chain and membership dividends on craft beer are great.
I make a point of highlighting major chains because they do not have to promote our products. Large agencies and macro breweries offer them promo items, large elaborate displays, massive limited time offer sales and other swag consistently. Yet these chains still make a point of highlighting product made here and giving us shelf space to sell our wares on. This is also great because it shows that the craft beer movement is real. When the large companies buy in like this it goes to show this isn’t a fad. As more and more shelf space is taken by great local breweries and the market share grows hopefully we take the shelf space of the 6, 8, 12, 15, 18, 24, 24+ pack of a handful of macro breweries. I look forward to the day when macro beer has as few format offerings as Alberta beer does on store shelves because it’s relevance has eroded and the province learns that beer is not just yellow and fizzy. This is a great step in that direction and for this, I’m thankful.