Happy Hour Pricing Contriversy

The Bright Side of BC’s New ‘Un’ Happy Hour

Happy Hour Pricing ContriversyThe 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?

Categories: Original Stories

About Author

Dustan Sept

Dustan Sept is the founder of Beer Me BC. His passion for craft beer drove the creation of beermebc.com in 2012. To learn more about the beermebc.com editorial team visit beermebc.com/the-beer-me-bc-team/.


  1. Paddy Treavor
    Paddy Treavor 21 June, 2014, 12:59

    Hey Dustan, I can point you to many places where beer, good beer, is less than $5 a pint. In the big city, they are the minority, but they exist. In more rural settings and outlying regions, less then $5 a pint for good beer is more common. BC liquor policy impacts all of BC, not just the outrageously priced Vancouver area. That is my issue with this new pol;icy, It will hit hard communities less affluent then Vancouver. It will impact those on fixed incomes who like to socialize over a pint at their local that does sell beer at a decent price. Will it change me drinking habits…no. Will it impact my wallet, as I live in a small community, yes! By about 35%!

    Just my thoughts
    VanEast Beer Blog

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  2. Beer Me BC
    Beer Me BC 21 June, 2014, 13:03

    Great point Paddy, Vancouver is a bit of a pricing anomaly within the province. I appreciate your thought from the rural side of things.

    The law is by no means a positive but from a city perspective it could amount in more people switching to craft beer.

    It may be a pipe-dream but there has to be a positive side to every situation.



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  3. Zinc
    Zinc 21 June, 2014, 13:35

    Think you missed the point…If a pub wants to put a new craft beer on special for $4.50 a pint they can’t…the province just set minimum prices.

    $5 a pint (plus taxes…and tip) is actually $7…

    The province keeps calling it “Happy Hour” pricing…and the gal on the street goes “Alright…Me like Happy Hour”.

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  4. terry
    terry 21 June, 2014, 19:04

    Unfortunately I believe this will create an overall increase in all beer prices as bars will price by relative cost and I bet Labatt and Coors raise their wholesale prices accordingly.

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  5. Tim
    Tim 21 June, 2014, 21:02

    Interesting perspective Dustan. I know here in Aldergrove there is an establishment that sells 311 Helles (a fine session beer) at a regular price of $4.00/pint, so I guess this would be a case where they would actually have to raise the price to comply. Also of note, a sleeve of beer minimum price is set at $3.00, so maybe bars will fudge the sleeve size and make it more pint-like?

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  6. Calvin
    Calvin 22 June, 2014, 11:32

    My closest watering hole has their house lager at $2.50 a glass and $4.50 a pint. I could care less if those prices go up to $3 and $5 because I don’t drink that stuff – however, that’s a huge segment of their business, and I think Terry is right; the macros are not going to let the bars keep all that extra profit margin, they”re going to want it for themselves and raise draft prices accordingly.
    Now here’s where this law is going to affect me and more craft friendly establishments: At a restaurant about 20 minutes away, on Sundays and Tuesdays all craft pints are $3.50 +tax. That includes Fat Tug – I could get 3 pints of my all-time favorite beer and leave a tip for under $15…. but now that prices just rose 48% on Craft specials, I might as well just go to my local and get a $6 Red Racer (everyday price) instead of supporting the establishment and brewery that I’d prefer.

    I totally agree with you that the silver lining is that the price gap between macro and craft is narrowing and that this might entice more blaaaager drinkers into the craft realm, but there are PLENTY of restaurants, pubs and especially breweries that are already selling craft beer at under $5/pint (before tax) – and now they’re prices are going to jump.

    By the way, nobody has mentioned growler fills yet – at this new per oz price, that would put a minimum growler fill at $14.75 before tax – does anyone know if growlers are exempt?

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  7. Rick Green
    Rick Green 24 June, 2014, 17:08


    Of course there are silver linings to any cloud. It remains to be seen if the overall effect is positive or negative. I would caution you making too broad conclusions about your beer survey, as I do not believe it to be a statistically significant sample of the average BC beer consumer, the great majority of whom do not drink craft beer, many because of price.

    So with the overall cost of beer going up, will this mean people opting to go out less? And with fewer people spending their money in restaurants, pubs, and bars, will the increased competition make it more difficult for independent businesses to survive, resulting in a homogenization of social spaces dominated by chains? True happy hours give independent businesses a greater opportunity to compete.

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