The recent release of BC’s Happy Hour legislation has caused an uproar among the thirsty residents of British Columbia. The underlying issue is that in the emergence of a Happy Hour, the minimum price for a pint of beer is set at $5.00. What this means is that some licensees will actually be required to raise their prices on beer to conform with the new legislation. The introduction of a Happy Hour could mean more expensive beer flowing from the taps of your favourite establishment…
Personally I can not remember the last time I bought a pint for less than $5.00. The last time I looked for the lowest price on a menu was back in University when cheep pitcher night was an excuse to skip the following mornings class. If you are someone that frequently reads articles here on beermebc.com you are likely in a similar boat. Price is not a driver in the beer that I order from any menu. The Happy Hour government-cash-grab travesty could actually help the craft beer industry. Price is not a primary factor in the purchase decision for craft beer drinkers.
You said it yourself in the 2013 BC Craft Beer Survey. Price consideration was of less importance than reputation, location, brewery and style when choosing which craft beer you drink. The BC craft beer industry as a whole has not taken a pricing strategy in gaining market share and this is apparent by what we drink on a daily basis. The craft breweries in which we love use a product focus with unique, innovative and premium products. It is worth paying a little bit more to drink the beer that is brewed local, brewed fresh and brewed with the flavours that we appreciate.
I do not agree with the new happy hour laws and the elevated minimum pricing but the questionable decision further narrows the gap between craft and mass produced beer. If your Mill-weiser-light with lime now costs $5.00 for a pint and a locally brewed craft beer still only costs $6.00 the marginal cost of quality craft beer has shrunk. This will not change what craft beer drinkers choose to drink but it will decrease the barriers to non-traditional customers moving the way of craft and the local industry gaining greater market share.
Should retailers be restricted to charging more than market value? No, but this law has potential to shift the pie-ratio in craft’s favour, enabling more people to see the light when it comes to quality craft beer. Personally I would rather support local craft brewers by purchasing their beer at fair market value than be tempted by adjunct-ridden beer being sold as a lost leader, happy hour special.
Beer Me BC Founder
What do you think? Could this bureaucratic money grab actually benefit craft beer?