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.

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