Crannog Ales Faces Closure Due To ALR Land Use Requirements

Crannog Ales Faces Closure Due To ALR Land Use Requirements

The Shuswap’s original microbrewery is facing a challenge to their existence as a farm brewery.

Brian MacIsaac and Rebecca Kneen have been growing hops and brewing beer on their 10-acre farm in Sorrento since 2000. Crannóg Ales has been teaching brewers about sustainability, promoting the protection of agricultural land, and helping farmers grow hops for 17 years. Their land is in the ALR, and they have not only been teaching hops production all over Canada but have also acted as an incubator farm for several successful market gardeners and seed producers. The farm produces 98% of the brewery’s hops, as well as the fruit and herbs used in their beer.

Now, however, regulatory changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve threaten their business and the farm itself.

New regulations specify that hops are not considered a brewing ingredient, and that on-farm breweries must produce 50% of their barley needs on their own farm. This shuts out both Crannóg Ales and Persephone Brewing from the Sunshine Coast. Neither farm brewery has sufficient land to produce any percentage of their malting barley needs, and neither brewery runs a malthouse alongside the brewery.

“Raw barley is not a brewing ingredient,” says Brian MacIsaac of Crannóg Ales. “Barley must be malted before it is usable for brewing. We rely on Gambrinus Malting of Armstrong for our malt needs, they source from all over the place including BC farms.” He adds “much of BC is not at all suitable for the production of malting barley, which has entirely different climate and cultural needs from feed barley”.

“This regulation would mean that we would have to not only quadruple our farm size, but increase industrial production on farmland by putting in our own malthouse” says Crannóg’s Rebecca Kneen. “Malting is a different process, requiring its own extensive facility and year-long storage, which is very land-intensive.”

A petition is circulating on Change.org, addressed to the Minister of Agriculture, to change the regulations to support sustainable on-farm breweries while maintaining restrictions to non-agricultural use of farmland.

Crannóg Ales and Persephone Brewing are in discussion with the ALC and the Minister. “It seems clear that these regulations were not developed in consultation with either farmers or existing farm breweries,” says Ms. Kneen. “They need to be amended to support on-farm breweries and maintain the strength of the ALR.”

“We sincerely hope we will not be forced to shut down because these regulations were made by people who’ve never seen what we do,” Mr MacIsaac concludes.

Comments

  1. Mona Johannson
    Mona Johannson 11 March, 2017, 08:10

    This is outrageous…to think that one of the Okanagans genuinely beautiful craft breweries could be shut down because people who have NO idea what it takes to make this product are making new rules.

    Reply this comment
  2. George Johnston
    George Johnston 11 March, 2017, 21:43

    This is scary, if I can grow Christmas trees or flowers and be a farm please explain the logic of not allowing hops. Is it is a plant grown Outdoors that adds value to a product how is this not farming

    Reply this comment
  3. Nicole
    Nicole 12 March, 2017, 09:45

    A number of folks have been unable to access the petition through the link you provide. Thank you for writing about this, it’s certainly a surprise to me.

    Reply this comment
  4. Sarah Bradshaw
    Sarah Bradshaw 12 March, 2017, 11:10

    This is business showpiece, that incorporates so much that is right for the community. Local jobs and purchases, conscientious use of land and water, awareness of and respect for their neghbours needs, a quality product enjoyed by many. Living lightly with the land and making a living at it should be lauded, not penalized.

    Reply this comment
  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous 12 March, 2017, 22:37

    So don’t know who thinks up these ridiculous rules!

    Reply this comment
  6. Frank M Kopke
    Frank M Kopke 12 March, 2017, 23:43

    Governments intervention seems to be for no better reason than for some politician and bureaucrat to justify the chair they are polishing with their butt! At no point does the government EVER seem to be aware of the consequences of any of their actions…To claim a need for brewed (malted) barley on a micro brewery is outrageously ridiculous…the massive infrastructure, the need for huge expanses of mono culture and the climate of a region cannot have been considered by these bench warmers at all!
    There should be a commission into the actual connection anybody in the “agricultural department ” of government has. If they do not have any farming connection the ruling party needs to be removed and the incoming party MUST make a farmer,,,an active farmer… head of this area. In fact – any area of government must be represented by a person actively involved in the area in question!!! If not – what is your prime minister/president/political leader doing??? and why would you put somebody incompetent or ignorant of the values of the people involved into any sort of position of influence???

    Reply this comment
  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous 13 March, 2017, 22:29

    I think big beer corporations are paying off the ALC. Why else would they change the rules for two tiny breweries.

    Reply this comment
    • Bob Cajun
      Bob Cajun 14 March, 2017, 11:20

      perhaps something to do with the upcoming brewery/distillery/malthouse coming on line in Kamloops?

      Reply this comment
  8. Wayne Hyam
    Wayne Hyam 14 March, 2017, 03:51

    Good Luck with your fight, will add my name to the cause

    Reply this comment
  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous 15 March, 2017, 21:26

    One is constantly reminded that the law is an ass!

    Reply this comment

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