The LCBO’s statement on imported beer freshness


Depending on when you’re reading this, I am either just about to or just have published a brief post on blogTO about “The LCBO’s stale beer problem.”

For that post, I reached out to the LCBO for comment and though I included excerpts of their statement, the blogTO article was limited in terms of column inches and the statement couldn’t be included in its entirety.

Given that we beer folks so often lament the LCBO’s efforts on keeping their imported beer fresh, I thought it was worth publishing the statement in toto.

To my mind, it seems like we’re maybe giving them a bit of a bum rap. It looks like they’re making solid efforts to handle a situation that is presumably pretty big considering the size and scope of the LCBO’s import alcohol business.

What do you think?

Here is the full statement from Christine Bujold, Media Relations Coordinator, Corporate Communications, LCBO:

The LCBO is committed to providing Ontario consumers and licensees with the highest quality beverage alcohol products available. As one of the world’s largest beverage alcohol retailers, the LCBO sold more than $5.2 billion of wine, spirits and beer in fiscal 2014-15. Products sold through LCBO stores are tasted, tested and certified by the LCBO’s Quality Assurance (QA) department. In fact, the QA department conducts more than 500,000 laboratory tests and tastes more than 7,500 products each year.

With regards to beer, LCBO makes every effort to ensure beer is stored, in our warehouses and retail stores, in a manner that ensures it retains its quality and freshness. This includes minimizing situations where beer may be impacted by exposure to natural elements such as direct sunlight.

LCBO warehouse staff continually record and monitor the “best before” sale date of all inbound shipments of beer and track inventory to ensure it is shipped to stores with sufficient shelf-life to sell through. LCBO retail staff are trained to ensure all beer sold is within its “best before” sale date and to remove from sale any inventory that has reached or passed that date.

The LCBO has made substantial investments to increase the amount of energy-efficient refrigerated space for beer in its retail stores and is in the midst of its largest-ever store network expansion. In almost all of our new locations, and in many of the store expansions/renovations, we’ve added beer cold rooms and devoted more display space to our growing beer selection. The Local Fridge program uses dedicated space in these refrigerated sections to feature the flagship brands of Ontario Craft breweries, highlighted by special signs.

It may interest you to know that non pasturized beer products are moved in temperature controlled trailers year round, and for products of 31% alcohol or less, the LCBO transports occur in a temperature controlled environment between November 16th and April 15th.

Quality continues to be monitored by LCBO’s retail and Quality Assurance staff after product reaches the store shelf. By bringing any product quality issues to the attention of retail and Quality Assurance staff, customers also assist the LCBO in maintaining these high standards.

If a customer feels that he or she has purchased an unsatisfactory product from the LCBO, they may return the product to any LCBO store for a full refund. When an unsatisfactory product is returned, the pertinent information is forwarded to the LCBO’s Quality Assurance Department for investigation.

For the purpose of media tastings and photography of seasonal products, LCBO will sometimes ask agents to bring in sample product prior to the actual production of the product and shipment to LCBO retail stores. Again, the policies and procedures described above are rigorously followed to ensure the quality and freshness of these seasonal products when sold in LCBO stores.

I “borrowed” the lead image from

5 thoughts on “The LCBO’s statement on imported beer freshness

  1. My feelings on the LCBO aside, I can agree that they may be getting a bad rap here. Keeping the amount and variety of beer they transport and warehouse is no easy task.

    When I worked at beer distributors in the states, I used to see how poorly beer was handled. I worked at one of the king of beer’s distributors who also handled Heineken. The warehouse people left the Heineken outside on purpose to distort the taste. Pretty shady.

  2. The LCBO deems it necessary to test products the producers already test. Why can’t they eliminate this step and speed things up?

    The Beer Store already offers refrigerated beer in all their stores. The LCBO has a long way to go if they want to catch up.

    1. The Beer Store only offers refrigerated space to the handful of brands that can afford to be in the Ice Cold Express section. I assure you there are beers languishing in unrefrigerated limbo beyond the magic wall.

      1. I’ve worked beyond the magic wall and it’s cold in “the box”. Yes there is some unrefrigerated beer at some Beer Store but a customer purchasing beer at any Beer Store walks away with cold beer (unless it is from a display in the non-self serve stores).

  3. I’ve heard countless rumours that their warehouse at Queens Quay is unrefrigerated. Is there any truth to that?

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