Posted March 14, 2017

Major Sponsors repeal support for Canadian Brewing Awards due to new eligibility

Two major sponsors of the annual Canadian Brewing Awards & Conference (CBAC) – The Beer Store and Beer Canada – have repealed their sponsorships for the 2017 CBAC because of new eligibility guidelines.

Only a Canadian-owned brewery or cidery whose products are produced and packaged in Canada is eligible for consideration this year, according to the CBAC.

(Canadian Brewing Awards & Conference)

Previously, the Canadian Brewing Awards were open to any brewery making its beer within Canada. This included MolsonCoors, Labatt, Sleeman and their subsidiaries Creemore Springs Brewery, BATCH (previously Beer Academy), Mill Street Brewery and Granville Island Brewing.

In past CBAC years, medal winners have included Molson Canadian, Coors Altitude, Alexander Keith’s IPA, and Bud Light because they are also brewed on Canadian soil.

TAPS Media, the parent company of CBAC indicated, “In the 10 plus years that TAPS Media has been running the Canadian Brewing Awards we have continually endeavoured to improve through collaboration and input from our community of Canadian brewers. As part of this process we conduct surveys and encourage input and feedback from brewers across Canada. The decision to change the guidelines to require Canadian ownership was in response to that feedback.”

The Beer Store and Beer Canada have been major monetary sponsors since 2008 and 2012, respectively.

Beer Canada is a member-based national trade group whose mission is to Provide thoughtful leadership and strategic focus to grow the beer category and facilitate the commercial success of Canada’s brewers. They allow any brewery in Canada to join regardless of ownership. Nearly 40 independent Canadian brewers are members, plus foreign-owned MolsonCoors, Labatt.

Beer Canada opted not to comment, while the Beer Store provided a copy of its correspondence to CBAC – A full copy is available below.

Ted Moroz, President of The Beer Store, writes in part, “In light of our operating mandate it is just not appropriate for the Beer Store to support an awards program that is not inclusive of all members of the Canadian brewing industry.”

In 2016, 1200 entries were submitted to the CBAC from 240 breweries and cideries. More than 1500 entries are anticipated for 2017.

The 15th annual Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference (CBAC) will be held May 25-27, 2017 at the Ottawa Conference & Event Centre, open to members of industry.

Statement from The Beer Store

Rob Engman

Canadian Brewing Awards

Dear Rob,

I am writing to follow-up on our conversation of March 2, 2017 regarding your recent change to the eligibility criteria for the Canadian Brewing Awards. Under your recently announced eligibility criteria, brewers who brew beer in Canada and who have participated in the Canadian Brewing Awards for many years, will now be excluded if their ownership isn’t “100% Canadian”. The criteria that beer need only be made in Canada in order to compete will no longer apply. Ownership will replace origin as the primary basis for participation.

Setting aside the practical issue of how your organization will verify the ownership of ALL breweries participating in the awards, the new eligibility criteria is unjustly discriminatory as it excludes Canadian brewers who have been manufacturing beer in Canada for more than 150 years and who today produce, using Canadian ingredients and Canadian labour, most of the beer made in this country.

As you know, the Beer Store has been a loyal sponsor of the Canadian Brewing Awards for close to a decade. I think it is fair to say that the Beer Store has been a valued business partner of the awards and that our many years of sponsorship has played a meaningful role in building the awards to the level of prominence and respect they enjoy today. It is for this reason that I was shocked to learn about the new eligibility criteria, not from the Canadian Brewing Awards, but rather from other industry sources.

I was also quite dismayed that your organization chose not to disclose your plans to change this policy when you approached us for sponsorship earlier this year. As I trust you are aware, the Beer Store is a beer retail and distribution system that is open to all brewers and whose operating costs are funded by Canadian brewers of all sizes. In this regard, we have a clear mandate to support the growth and success of all the brewers who sell through our system regardless of their size or ownership.

In light of our operating mandate it is just not appropriate for the Beer Store to support an awards program that is not inclusive of all members of the Canadian brewing industry. Had we known of your intentions to adopt the new eligibility criteria we would not have agreed to participate as a sponsor. As I understand from our March 2, 2017 conversation that you are not prepared to reconsider the eligibility policy, I must inform you that the Beer Store will be withdrawing its sponsorship effective immediately. I must also request that you immediately remove our logo and name from all promotional materials for the awards.


Ted Moroz

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