It’s always important to remember, whenever we launch headlong into the debate about The Beer Store, that this debate actually happens with a fairly predictable frequency. Indeed, in beer writing circles, it’s been posited that you can count on a rant exposing Ontario’s “foreign-owned monopoly” to surface pretty reliably roughly every six months or so. It’s almost as though beer nerds unofficially take turns having a go at The Beer Store simply for the guaranteed web traffic it typically translates to. It’s our version of shift work.
What even we angry beer writers might not realize though, is just how long this debate has been raging.
To give us some idea, and to maybe lend me a reminder of just how futile all of our recent anti-Beer Store writing probably is, fellow beer scribe Jordan St. John, who is the national beer columnist for QMI and who writes a beer blog called St. John’s Wort, recently sent me an article that he uncovered while doing research for a forthcoming book he co-authored on Ontario’s brewing history (a book which, incidentally, is currently available to pre-order on Amazon.ca).
The subject line of his email, appropriately, was simply “hahahaha” and he had saved the attached file as NOTHING EVER CHANGES.pdf.
The actual title of the article attached, however, was “‘Smelly’ stores cleaned up,” a piece by reporter John Heinzl from The Globe and Mail from December 9, 1991, about The Beer Store. It’s an interesting article for a few reasons, but mainly because it serves as a stark reminder, some 23 years later, that the issues we all currently have with The Beer Store are nothing new, that they’ve faced competitive upstarts before, that they’re happy to make tiny improvements to appease their consumers, and that, ultimately, sadly, they’re probably not going anywhere. Continue reading