Loblaws set to launch beer sales


Early next week Loblaws will announce the details of their pilot program to be among the first grocers in Ontario to sell beer.

The grocery chain’s stores are among a select 450 Ontario grocery stores who will be allowed to sell beer by 2018 and they are also among an even more select 60 stores who will be allowed to sell beer “before Christmas,” a date that grows ever closer, despite what the weather might have you believe.

Ben’s Beer Blog has learned that, with an eye to that “Christmas” launch, Loblaws will likely be hosting a press conference next week where Premier Kathleen Wynne will be on hand to help the retailer announce the details of the launch of their beer program.

I’m going to add a big disclaimer here that I have been unable to verify all of what I’m about to reveal, but for the most part, I have the details that will be announced.

My sources tell me that we’ll actually have beer in Loblaws as of next weekend, Friday December 18th. Yes, that’s right, Ontario will have beer in our Loblaws on the very same day that the world gets a new Star Wars movie. It’s as though they’ve ripped a page right from my dream journal.

Interestingly, my sources also tell me that Loblaws will announce that a full 50% of their beer shelf space will be dedicated to Ontario craft beers (more than double the mandatory 20% that was stipulated in the new Beer Framework Agreement) and that Loblaws stores will boast 150 different beer varieties. This is inarguably good news for those among us who expected large grocers to become yet another outlet for Molson and Labatt’s omnipresent lagers.

The craft beer that will be available in Loblaws stores as of next weekend will include:

  • Amsterdam Brewing Co’s Boneshaker IPA;
  • Beau’s All-Natural Brewing Co’s Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale, The Tom Green Beer Milk Stout, and Lugtread Lagered Ale;
  • Brick Brewery’s Waterloo Dark;
  • Collective Arts Brewery’s Rhyme and Reason Pale Ale;
  • Double Trouble Brewing Co’s Hops and Robbers IPA;
  • Flying Monkey’s Hoptical Illusion;
  • Great Lakes Brewery’s Canuck Pale Ale and Pompous Ass Pale Ale;
  • Junction Craft Brewing’s Conductor’s Craft Ale;
  • Lake of Bays’ Spark House Red Ale;
  • Muskoka Brewery’s Detour Session IPA and Mad Tom IPA;
  • Nickel Brook’s Headstock IPA;
  • Side Launch Brewing’s Side Launch Wheat; and
  • Steam Whistle Premium Pilsner.

The “non-craft” beers will include:

  • Beck’s;
  • Budweiser;
  • Creemore Springs Lager;
  • Coors Light;
  • Corona Extra;
  • DAB Beer;
  • Grolsch;
  • Guinness;
  • Heineken;
  • Kronenberg 1664;
  • Labatt Blue;
  • Laker Lager;
  • Lowenbraus;
  • Mill Street Brewery’s 100th Meridian Amber Lager and Organic Lager;
  • Molson Canadian;
  • Old Milwaukee;
  • Pilsner Urquell;
  • Stella Artois; and
  • Tuborg Gold.

As for the nagging (and, frankly, silly) questions about how grocery store staff might possibly handle the responsibility of alcohol sales, I’m told Loblaws will also announce that their staff will now be Smart Serve certified.

My sources say that the initial pilot program for Loblaws will include 17 stores across the province, and while I’ll add another healthy disclaimer here that this is not 100% verified, I do have a list of those 17 stores.

In the GTA, the list of Loblaws stores to carry beer will be:

  • The Newmarket Superstore;
  • The Georgetown Superstore;
  • Loblaws Burnamthorpe Market;
  • Loblaws Victoria Park;
  • The Oshawa Superstore;
  • The Dufferin & Steeles Superstore; and
  • Loblaws at Leslie and Lakeshore

In the East, the stores that will sell beer are:

  • The South Kanata Superstore;
  • Loblaws College Square Market in Ottawa;
  • The Loblaws Princess Market in Kingston; and
  • Browns Independent Grocer in Stittsville.

In the West, the stores with beer will be:

  • Highland Hills Superstore in Kitchener;
  • Oakridge Mall Superstore in London;
  • Zehrs Cambridge Centre;
  • Walker Road Superstore in Windsor; the
  • The Fortinos Supermarket on Mall Road in Hamilton

In the North, the Thunder Bay Superstore will be the lone Loblaws to sell beer.

26 thoughts on “Loblaws set to launch beer sales

      1. I am used to getting screwed. Can’t imagine why licensees buy off their license. In my business I can count the number of lodges o one hand that actually bother to get a license as they know they will get screwed. Sad that we are forced to break the law

      1. So they’ve picked safe beers choices (ie, a bunch of APAs and IPAs) mostly from the big craft boys, that are, for the most part, readily available at LCBOs and TBS all around the province, and inevitably within a km or two of the Loblaws carrying them.

        I understand that this is just a start, and one can forgive them for going with beer that they know will sell, at least to start with. But I can’t imaging why anyone should be getting excited about this as it stands.

  1. I can confirm from a Loblaws staff member that the Princess Street Market in Kingston will begin selling beer on December FIFTEENTH, that is tomorrow. Not sure if that is the same for the other stores in the province.

    1. Creemore is owned by Molson and Mill Street is owned by Labatt. The definitions of “craft” are myriad, but I’m at a loss to think of one that might still justifiably include these two brands.

    2. Creemore hasn’t been craft for a long time and as of a couple months ago, neither is Mill Street. Until I read this article, I suspected that the cartel would try and push through Mill Street, Creemore and even Rickards as ‘craft’ beer to fill their required quota. Good to see that this is not the case.

      1. Creemore still makes great beer… who cares that they are now owned my Molson? It’s better than the brewery shutting down or being owned by the bank. As much as I love the idea of independents making it and sticking it to the man, eventually you need an exit strategy, and selling to a larger corporation is a good one. The beer didn’t change with the acquisition. If caring about your product isn’t the definition of craft, then I don’t know what is.
        There’s enough shit beer out there that does “qualify” as “craft”. “Craft” does not always equal “good”. Let’s drop the label.

      2. Creemore Springs is now a shadow of it’s former self. I was a regular buyer back when they used those twist off 500 ml bottles. The current offering tastes nothing like it in my opinion.

    1. At first I thought it was ridiculous as well. However, I think this was a decision made by Loblaw’s (not the government) to go head to head with the Beer Store. And kinda an F— You as well ….

  2. Hey guys, why are the price tags on the shelf not consistent ? On the shelf dedicated to Grolsch, the shelf tag says $2.40 (price includes tax and deposit -per can price is $2.03) while on the shelf space dedicated to Canadian its $2.45 , excluding tax and deposit. I can’t get an answer on this. Is it a bureaucratic error, or intentional mislabelling?

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