Rules, Regulations and Red Tape

United States president Herbert Hoover famously called the Prohibition of alcohol the “Noble Experiment)” and it seems that the effects of this “experiment” have never really left us as there are a variety of archaic rules and regulations left in place throughout the U.S.A. and Canada seems to have followed suit.

Prohibition Newspaper

If Prohibition is over, why can we still feel it?

The Good

While I often lament the poor state of liquor laws in my area, I am fully aware of why and how they still exist.  Recently our government made an announcement of sorts that it is willing to consider making some changes to some of these antiquated liquor laws.  I am hopeful for the future, and am even trying to become an active participant in these changes.


The Bad

The alcohol industry in North America has been dominated for over a hundred years by the mores of a bygone era.  Explaining them to non-residents is a long and complicated process that results in confusion, laughter and disappointment.

A read through the antiquated regulations in many areas reveal throwbacks akin to Victorian England with a strong note of fundamental Christian beliefs.  From the inability to purchase alcohol on Sundays, in some areas, to the limits of the amount of alcohol by volume in some products, and finally the intentional poisoning of alcoholic products by government decree, there abound a multitude of rules and regulations aimed at controlling the drinking, purchasing and production habits of the population as a whole.

While each area has differing rules, they generally cover a few basic areas.

  1. Who can purchase alcohol. (age restricted of course)
  2. Where alcohol can be purchased. (dedicated stores only in some areas)
  3. Where alcohol for sale can be obtained. (in some areas from a government controlled entity)
  4. What types and strengths of alcohol can be purchased. (some areas allow beer only up to a certain strength)
  5. Who can produce alcohol and whom those producers can sell to.  (some are forced to use a middleman, barring direct sales)

The list of these rules goes on, and a complete list is beyond the scope of this article.  Indeed, it would be beyond the scope of most books and dull for most folks to read.

If one were to try and generalize these rules into a workable meta-description, it might be best to consider that these rules are designed to follow a Victorian/Christian/Temperance ideology to control the alcohol related habits of the population.  To a large extent these rules and regulations are geared at controlling and minimizing the use, production and misuse of alcoholic products.  Their effectiveness though, is a matter of debate as historians and research has attested to.

The Ugly

In the recent announcement for my area, there were speeches from the two local breweries and the one semi-local, as well as the minister responsible.  A desire for changes to the rules was mentioned by all, however hidden in the press release were some alarming details.

With a little digging around it was possible to find the MANITOBA CRAFT BREWERIES STRATEGY INDUSTRY ADVISORY COMMITTEE and from there it was simple to analyze the composition, competencies and concerns of the committee.

Several things practically leap off the page upon a simple examination.  Closer examination reveals a fascinating read.

Here are some observations made by myself and others.


Shameless Self Promotion

I want in on this process.  As noted, there are many interest groups on this committee and some members whose involvement is puzzling to say the least.  I believe that I offer transparency, an educated viewpoint, and a general interest towards nothing more than improving the situation for craft beer in the province.




Beerideas is a fortysomething father that enjoys well made beverages. He is a homebrewer, educator and child at heart.

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