This January 2020 photo shows a selection of hard seltzer on a counter in New York. The most recent "it drink" is hard seltzer, served on plenty of patios and sidewalk tables during this pandemic summer. Hard seltzer, also known as spiked seltzer or hard sparkling water, contains carbonated water, alcohol and flavoring. (Cheyenne Cohen/Katie Workman via AP)

B.C. leads Canada in breweries despite quaffing less beer than any other province

Province sees 15 per cent increase in breweries as per capita beer sales decline

B.C. is now home to the largest number of breweries of any province in Western Canada, despite consuming the least amount of beer per capita Canada-wide.

The province has a staggering 230 breweries, up 15 per cent year-over-year, according to the most recent Beer Canada report.

“With such a large number of beer options produced in B.C., local brews are becoming increasingly popular,” said Rhandi Clarke, a category manager at JAK’s Beer Wine & Spirits.

“British Columbians are shopping hyperlocal, choosing to support the breweries that are right in their own community,” she said.

Despite the increase in breweries, total beer sales have seen a steady decline since 2017.

Instead, consumers are opting for canned cocktails, non-alcoholic and lower alcohol beverages as their go-to summer drinks.

“We are seeing a huge increase in demand for locally-made tequila and gin-based drinks,” Clarke said. “There is also massive growth happening in the non-alcoholic or lighter drink category, and that’s likely to really take off in the coming year,” she said.

This isn’t solely a B.C. trend, as Statistics Canada’s latest report found that beer sales hit an all-time low in 2019 and 2020, while Canadians bought $1.3 billion worth of ciders and coolers — up 17.2% from the previous fiscal year.

Beyond preference, the price may be another factor influencing consumption. Consumer Price Index data shows the price of beer in B.C. increased 6.8 per cent year-over-year, while liquor only increased 2.4 per cent.

“Regardless of price or preference, there are many local adult beverage options,” Clarke said.

“As the hot and sunny weather kicks off and British Columbians venture out to parks, beaches, and campsites, we encourage everyone to drink responsibly.”

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