Lake of Bays welcomes changes to Ontario's beer retailing system


BAYSVILLE ON, April 22, 2015 —  On Thursday, April 16, 2015, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne released details of a plan to increase retail access for local Ontario Craft Brewers, making way for the most sweeping changes to the system since Prohibition was repealed in 1927.

This news was received enthusiastically by the team at Lake of Bays Brewing Company. “Improved retail access will have a major positive impact on our business,” said Darren Smith, Lake of Bays’ president and founder as well as vice chair of the Ontario Craft Brewers Association.

“With the ability to get our product in front of more customers across the province, we’ll be able to grow our sales and invest more in our business, which will have significant spinoff benefits for our suppliers, our customers and our local community,” he added. “We currently employ 45 people, and with the right retail environment, we could easily double or triple that number over the coming years.”

Some of the key changes announced on Thursday are:

The Beer Store returning to its cooperative roots

  • the appointment of an independent Ombudsman
  • the appointment of independent board members with veto powers to ensure fairness and equal access
  • at least one craft brewer on the board
  • 20% shelf space allocated to small breweries
  • The Beer Store has committed to investing $100 million in updating its stores over four years. While the exact nature of the upgrades are not clear at this point, we hope that they will be intended primarily to phase out “the wall” and hasten the conversion of all Beer Store locations to a self-service retail environment.

Beer in grocery stores

  • up to 450 licenses for the sale of beer in grocery stores will be issued
  • 20% of shelf space at grocery store beer outlets will be allocated to small breweries
  • Beer will be sold in a separate, secured area of the store
  • the first outlets are scheduled to open around Christmas time with about 150 open by the summer of 2017

The price of beer will remain the same across channels, whether it is purchased at the LCBO, The Beer Store or at grocery outlets. There is a price freeze on major brands until May of 2017.

The small brewers did not get all that they were asking for, most notably, the ability to open additional retail outlets and cross-sell one-another’s beer. “This is something that we had hoped for, but perhaps this will come about at a later time,” Darren added.

There is still much to be done, he said. “We are looking forward to continuing to work with the government on these initiatives for the best possible outcome for craft brewers and for everyone who enjoys craft beer.”



Darren is available for interviews at or (705) 767-2313.

Resources: Download a PDF of Ed Clark’s full report on Modernizing Beer Retailing and Distribution in Ontario.

You can download high resolution photos of Darren here.

For more information contact Tamsen Tillson, Marketing Manager or office: (705) 767-2313 or cell: (705) 645-5225