Off-site beer sales plebiscite on tap in Iqaluit

Iqalummiut to vote Oct. 24 on whether breweries should be allowed to sell beer for customers to take home

A plebiscite on the ability for breweries in Iqaluit to sell beer for drinking off the premises is coming to the city in October. The initiative was started by Nunavut Brewing Company Ltd. (File photo)

By David Lochead

Updated on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022 at 1:15 p.m.

A vote on whether Iqaluit breweries can sell beer to customers to take home with them is coming to Iqaluit on Oct. 24, with advance voting Oct. 17.

News of the plebiscite was released on Elections Nunavut’s website Monday.

A ‘yes’ vote in the plebiscite would mean pubs with a brewery license would be allowed to apply to the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Board for a license to sell up to 12 cans or bottles of beer per day per customer.

A ‘no’ vote would keep the status quo in place — breweries would only be allowed to sell beer for consumption on their premises, for export, or to the NULC.

The initiative to get this question put to a vote is one that Nunavut Brewing Company Ltd. has been working on since the company opened in 2018, general manager Jason Oldham said.

If selling beer to be consumed off premises is allowed, the increase in sales that Nunavut Brewing could experience would mean more money going back into the local economy, instead of to multinational alcoholic beverage corporations, he said.

Increased sales would also help the brewery recover from what has been a difficult two years, as it has dealt with pandemic closures and water crises in the city, Oldham said.

“It’s been a hard couple years,” he added.

Another benefit of increased sales would be that Nunavut Brewery could try more experimental beers that the company enjoys brewing, he said.

Oldham added that currently Nunavut Brewing goes through the Beer and Wine Store for sales, which is more difficult because the company is competing against other brands.

Oldham emphasized Nunavut Brewing has gone the route of a plebiscite because it understands the importance of community approval, as well as respecting the municipal and territorial laws.

In June, Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell said he plans to bring up his own liquor plebiscite, but that one is intended to vote on possibly shutting down the Beer and Wine Store.

Reasons Bell cited for such a plebiscite included violence from public drunkenness as well as a lack of mental health and addictions support.

For the plebiscite to pass and have brewing companies get a license to sell beer off premises, 60 per cent of voters will need to vote ‘yes’.

For the plebiscite on breweries in Iqaluit selling beer for off-premises drinking, the advance vote Oct. 17 will be held at Abe Okpik Hall and the Catholic parish hall from noon to 7 p.m.

The Oct. 24 vote will be held at Cadet Hall from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the advance vote has a location at Catholic Parish Hall, not Cadet Hall.

 

Share This Story

(47) Comments:

  1. Posted by Thirsty on

    Yes plz! It’s a nice way to wash the night down after a night on the town.

    24
    8
    • Posted by GentlemanChap on

      I Once Visit The Brewery By Curiousity,its a well Clean and Maintain Place,Was able to sit and taste a beer without beeing bother and saw merchandise for sale such as cap and hoody,but strangely i was told,not allow to sale beer to take home for further testing, i think a brewery absolutly need to sale their product wich is the main reason they are up and runing,if not they go bankrup,mixing any other issue about mental health or violance here is just like mixing wrong ingredient in a brew batch and spoil all the beer,it as nothing to do with that great little brewery.the need support to stay alive.

      30
      4
  2. Posted by Colin on

    Making more alcohol available then it already is, let’s just keep ignoring the issues here and pretend everything is ok, look the other way while I enjoy my selection of beer, hey it’ll be just like how it’s down down south minus the addiction programs and facilities and mental health support, that’s ok I will have some new varieties of beer to choose from which is more important for me and not what is actually happen here with all the social problems, that’s on the people with problems not me. Let’s drink to that and drink some more.
    Cheers.

    24
    50
    • Posted by John K on

      Why should I go without anything because others lack self control?

      36
      14
      • Posted by Colin on

        You can go there for a drink or buy your drink from the beer and wine store. No one is saying you can’t buy your alcohol from the beer and wine store or from the restaurants or bars.
        Also it’s just not about self control, there is so much social issues here, so much trouble, just making it easier to buy more alcohol from other sources is not the answer, it’s already so easy to buy your beer, way too many functioning alcoholics here.
        Gotta look at the bigger picture and see that this is not healthy.

        11
        17
        • Posted by John K on

          Prohibition has NEVER worked in the past so why should prohibition be imposed on me now because of others?

          All prohibition does is allow regular people to wash their hands of the situation and pretend they did something.

          11
          4
          • Posted by hmm on

            What prohibition?

            Can you buy alcohol to consume in bars, restaurants and a brewery – yes. Can you buy beer and wine in a local store – yes. Can you order in pretty much any other alcohol product you’d like – yes.

            5
            4
            • Posted by John K on

              Just because it isn’t absolute prohibition does not mean it isn’t prohibition.

              I find this dichotomy childish and lazy.

              So again; why should this level of prohibition be maintained when it will solve nothing and only inhibit those of us without a problem.

              I know we’ve been conditioned to immediately think “BoOzE bAd!” so people make outlandish assumptions about who the Brewery will be willing to sell to. You can rest assured that I’ve seen them turn intoxicated people away.

              People are grasping at straws (and strawmen) to make this idea as apocalyptical as they can.

              9
              5
  3. Posted by Vote poll on

    Like my comment if you will be voting yes and dislike if you will be voting no.

    Cheers.

    63
    20
  4. Posted by baffin resident on

    more like into the hands of the owners instead of the “local” economy.

    15
    25
    • Posted by Haters gotta Hate on

      Umm. Wait……. I’m pretty sure the owners contribute to the local economy in Iqaluit A LOT more than Molson, Anheuser-Busch, Diageo, etc. All of these huge international Alcohol/Beer conglomerates give $0 back to the local economy. Haters gotta Hate. SMH

      31
      6
  5. Posted by John K on

    I will be there with bells on to vote an emphatic yes.

    28
    12
    • Posted by Johnny B good on

      I do hope you can get help for that. there is treatment for your problem. Wish you all the best.

      6
      8
      • Posted by John K on

        I haven’t been drunk in five years. Still drink just fine.

        8
        5
        • Posted by Larry on

          Admitting you have a problem is the first step. The most difficult step.

          5
          3
  6. Posted by snapfish on

    Be nice not having to have to stand in long b/w store lineup to pick up a few throat charmers.

    22
    6
  7. Posted by Umingmak on

    This is common sense. Yes is the only logical vote. The government currently has a monopoly. This is hurting a Nunavut-based business. Vote yes on this plebiscite.

    23
    11
  8. Posted by Get out of the kitchen if the competition is too hot!! on

    “Oldham added that currently Nunavut Brewing goes through the Beer and Wine Store for sales, which is more difficult because the company is competing against other brands.” If your product can’t compete then perhaps there’s an issue with the product!! Selling outside of the Beer & Wine store shouldn’t be necessary nor should it be allowed!!

    17
    43
    • Posted by Oh for god’s sake… on

      The Brewery makes good beer, and are constantly trying new things. The reason it’s more pricey is because of the ungodly costs of production in Iqaluit, and they are not a giant company that can just eat the transportation costs. Incidentally, cans sold at the Brewery may well end up being cheaper because they don’t have to transport it to the store.

      As for competition, they are selling to their market already. Lets be clear, the people who are buying a 24 of molson dry daily aren’t drinking it for the flavour. They buy it because its the cheapest, and has a higher alcohol content than many others (5.5%).

      Their purchase, binge-drinking, and littering the city with discarded cans is going to continue whether the Brewery can sell it’s own cans or not.

      30
      7
  9. Posted by Your beer has been measured, weighed and found wanting. on

    This story presents the issue as though multiple breweries and individuals are impacted by the inability of THE ONLY BREWERY in town to sell off-sales on-site. Truth is, there is only the one brewery in Iqaluit and only one other place to buy beer which is conveniently located down the street from the brewery. Hence, it’s not a significant competitive barrier.

    This story is not about you; it’s not about the consumer or anyone else but the owner(s). It’s about the owner(s), perhaps mistakenly, believing they can make more money if they can sell their water and hops from their own location.

    Sadly, what’s missing from this story is reality. Beer sales went through the roof during the pandemic, but I guess not Nubrew. The real issue is that the Nunavut Brewing Company sales shortage likely relates more to their beer taste and quality. I challenge them to bring it to a beer-tasting festival.

    I’m a connoisseur of beer, and I can honestly say that I hoped and wanted to have a good local cold brew produced here in Iqaluit. Sadly this company has missed the mark by so wide a margin they are now suggesting they can’t even make a good profit as the ONLY game in town.

    Spare me the excuses about location and off-sales. If the OWNER wants to sell more beer, it should start producing a quality product that speaks to Nunavummiut by taking advantage of local flavours, culture and craft. NuBrew is no Keith’s because even those who modestly claim to like it, can’t like it a lot. In my expert opinion, it’s just bad beer.

    That may all be my opinion, but I promise I have sampled more than a few to know the difference. Nubrew should conjure up the late Steve Jobs, avoid the politics for now and focus on the product. You will never succeed if you try to be just another cheap southern brew produced in a northern environment.

    Think Different!

    26
    34
    • Posted by Umingmak on

      What an absolutely ignorant comment.

      NUBrew costs more than overproduced garbage like Keith’s because it’s expensive to make beer in Iqaluit, yet many, many people are willing to pay the higher price because it is, simply, better beer.

      22
      11
    • Posted by Think About It on

      OH PLEASE
      A connoisseur of beer; so you are a legal cicerone, complete with the certifications, or are you just a guy that likes to drink different kinds of beer?
      I don’t drink beer so I have no opinion about the quality, but not letting people purchase a product to take home would definitely impact the sales and therefore the profits. Can you imagine if Northmart was held to the same standard.

      22
      5
  10. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    This would be a locally owned and operated alternative. It’s not a matter of being able to compete with the Molson Coors and Heineken’s of the world.

    If you go directly to the brewery it’s because you want to try their beer.

    28
  11. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    So I take it the brewing company will join the record-keeping software the GN has to control the amount of beer and/or wine a person can buy?? The limitations set by the Agency are there for a reason and apply to all, not just the B & W store.

    10
    17
    • Posted by Nope on

      They won’t…says so in the Elections Nunavut release. The GN’s customer data is not shareable. So this opens the door to 36 cans per day.

      10
      7
  12. Posted by hmmm on

    Well…who knew a private business could trigger a referendum on alcohol supply?

    Thanks…no….

    IMHO we don’t need already marginalized people freezing to death because they’ve downed their daily allotment from the B&W store and decide to try to get out to NuBrew to pick up another dozen beers before the offsale closes at 10 PM.

    9
    23
    • Posted by Make Iqaluit Great Again on

      Not to mention how many drunk drivers will make their way down to the brewery to pick up more beer before the off sale closes at 10pm!! I can’t believe so many people so strongly support this misguided initiative! I support the beer and wine store but that’s enough given Iqaluit’s indisputable problems with alcohol. Being deprived of some off sale of supposed “craft beer” is a small inconvenience to stop our community from slipping further into the abyss!! Come on people, you don’t have to think only about yourselves all the time!!

      11
      15
      • Posted by Hit the nail on

        Exactly! All these alcoholics are just thinking of themselves, once their beer runs out from the beer and wine store they will get more from the brewery, more drunks and drinking.
        These guys supporting this are only thinking of themselves and being childish not thinking of all the issues we have going on in this place.
        So many functioning alcoholics here this will probably be voted in and until it gets really bad then things will be done to correct it.
        For now drink up and drink more mentality.

        8
        14
      • Posted by John K on

        Iqaluit doesn’t have an alcohol problem; some people in Iqaluit have an alcohol problem.

        Don’t lump me with them. My vote will be yes.

        26
        6
        • Posted by Make Iqaluit Great Again on

          No one is lumping you in with them! But don’t you understand that you are not the only person who lives in this community! This community does not exist just to exclusively cater to your desires and those of your friends who are fortunate to not have a drinking problem. Whether you want to hear it or not, Iqaluit as a community has a problem with alcohol. We can’t ignore that gorilla in the room just because it’s for you and your lifestyle. You can still buy your beer at the beer and wine store. But please all of you stop being selfish and think only of yourselves and start thinking of the overall welfare of this community.

          You all say “why should I be punished because other people can’t handle their booze or why should I be lumped in with them??” My answer is: There is a beer and wine store with generous limits at your service!!! Isn’t that enough??? Can’t you show the slightest bit of understanding for the social problems gripping this community????

          11
          16
          • Posted by John K on

            Nor does the community exist solely to cater to those of us unfortunate enough to have a drinking problem. Whether you want to hear it or not, Iqaluit is a community composed MOSTLY of people without an alcohol problem. And quite frankly the beer and wine store is not enough. Because of my demonstrable LACK of a drinking problem I have no interest in spending 45 minutes in a line half filled with the other side of this coin. Why would I not prefer to leave the Brewery after happy hour with a six pack and a sandwich?

            I have no shortage of understanding; I even have some sympathy left. That does not mean I’m going out of my way for anything just because we have addicts. My vote will be yes.

            9
            7
            • Posted by coin on

              “I have no interest in spending 45 minutes in a line half filled with the other side of this coin”

              The other side of that coin are people that are suffering and indifference to that suffering is at the core of many of Iqaluit’s issues.

              5
              4
              • Posted by John K on

                I feel for them. But outside that sensation all I’m willing to do for them is shorten the B&W line by one person.

                1
                2
              • Posted by John K on

                Sometimes for sure! And I’m neither regretful nor apologetic about it.

                I contribute, I do my good works for my community, I also allow for plenty of time to care about myself exclusively.

                3
                3
  13. Posted by At The Store on

    Nubrew is already available at the Wine and Beer store. If their product can’t compete, that’s the publics choice.

    15
    21
    • Posted by Observation Post on

      So what your idea of ‘choice’ is, is a government monopoly? Are you the same commenter pretending to be an expert on what counts as ‘competition’?

      9
      8
      • Posted by At The Store on

        The public can choose which beer they want to buy, duh.
        The government gets its share regardless.

  14. Posted by 59009 on

    Currently NuBrew only sells their cans at the Beer and Wine store in TALL cans, which are more expensive to begin with. They should try to sell in regular 355mL cans at a cheaper price to complete with other brands at the Beer and Wine store.

    Someone mentioned that Molson Dry sells a lot because its cheaper and has a higher alcohol percentage, which i no doubt is true…but NuBrew has some that are stronger than 5%. If they can sell at the 355mL can sizes at a cheaper price than they may see more sales from the Beer and Wine store.

    • Posted by Oh for god’s sake… on

      That was me. You’re right. The Brewery does sell some beer that is higher than 5%. Floe Edge Lager, and Aupaqtuq Red Ale are 5%, and Frob Gold is 6.8%. I love the flavour of Frob Gold, because its similar to an IPA, which is my preferred beer.
      Frob Gold is almost always the first to sell out at the beer and wine store. The optimist in me want to believe that lots of people just really like it, but the realist in me says its because its one of the strongest beers you can buy in Iqaluit and that matters to some people.

      5
      2
      • Posted by For Pete’s sake on

        correction not for some but for many! There is a real problem with alcohol here, its why that strongest beer sells out so fast.

  15. Posted by Fred from small southern town of 12,000 on

    Coming up here three years ago, I have noticed drinking is a problem here, everything social involves drinking and a lot of drinking.
    Coming from a small quiet town that actually has more people than Iqaluit and seeing the stark difference in the amount of drinking that goes on here it really stands out.
    Yes we drink at home but not this much, I can see the concerns people have with having more alcohol made available, it’s already so much, we see people leaving the beer and wine store with their bags and sitting by the road and drinking. Early afternoon we see drunk people staggering.
    For the size of this place there is so much drinking that goes on. It is really unhealthy.
    House parties are a huge drunk fest, better options are available, healthier activities, but it seems to be few and far between more the majority.

    8
    2
  16. Posted by withheald on

    A better question is why anyone would want to open a brewery in this type of town. You are only looking to profit on the high costs and off the people here. Their problems, misery and everything that goes along with it
    Pack up and go back to where you came from if that last two years were so hard… a brewery in Iqaluit has me dumbfounded!

    7
    6
    • Posted by John K on

      Busy every time I go in; no matter the day.

      I think they’re here to stay 🙂

      6
      4
  17. Posted by Lol Booze on

    I mean why not just permit northern and coop and canners and djs to sell beer and wine? No one worth taking seriously will recommend that in a place so fought with alcoholism unless they’re narcicistic but ya I don’t want the problem to get worse and more bricks through windows, police shootings and general violence.
    .
    The primary issue to most people seems to be the slow system with cold and long waiting in lines, so maybe the liquor store should expand services including multiple locations and longer hours. How about this: the brewery and GN have an agreement for GN staff to be on site selling NuBrew while still maintaining the limits list confidentially?

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*