BC Primary Liquor License Application: Key Points for Your Letter of IntentNovember 16, 2020
Avoid Common Pitfalls When Buying or Selling a BC Liquor LicenseDecember 15, 2020
BC liquor licensing is a little confusing for brew pubs because there is more than one way to license them, depending on the needs of your business. We are frequently asked by brew pub start-ups which BC liquor license applications are relevant.
The confusion over licensing exists because there are two possible licensing streams. To produce, serve, and sell alcohol, a manufacturer can apply for either, 1) a liquor primary license and a manufacturer license, or, 2) a manufacturer license with additional lounge endorsements (a kind of “add-on” license) to sell alcohol by the glass to their guests. All manufacturing licenses whether designated as a “brew pub” or manufacturer with a lounge endorsement are also permitted to apply for an on-site retail store, special event area, or picnic area (or any combination of the four endorsements).
In most cases, brew pubs apply for a manufacturer license with additional endorsements for a lounge and on-site store.
Note: In some municipalities, depending on zoning restrictions, you may not have a choice regarding which licensing stream is required.
Option 1: BC Liquor Primary & Manufacturer License
This brew pub licensing stream means applying for and managing two different BC liquor license applications and liquor licenses (liquor primary and manufacturer), which will allow:
Food and by-the-glass beverage service of all types of alcohol
Unlike brew pubs operating with a manufacturer license and lounge endorsement, the 80/20 rule (requiring that at least 80% of liquor sales be the manufacturer’s products) does not apply.
Off-premise sales (a.k.a. “off-sales”)
The liquor primary license allows off-sales of packaged alcohol that are manufactured on site. With an additional off-premise sales endorsements, brew pubs may fill or refill containers with brewery products for off-sales in the brewery or brew pub.
Adjoining floor plans
The floor plans of the manufacturing facility and liquor primary service area must adjoin one another. There can be no overlap between manufacturing and liquor primary area floor plans.
Pipeline from brewery to liquor primary
Brew pubs may sell beer that is transferred directly from the brewery to the adjacent liquor primary establishment via a direct pipeline. Transferred beer may be sold for consumption on-site as growlers in the liquor primary service bar, or packaged as off-sales if the liquor primary establishment has an off-premise sales endorsement. This transfer of product must be recorded and reported to LDB in a different way than if the manufacturer had a lounge endorsement and also must be reflected within the LDB sales agreement.
Option 2: BC Liquor Manufacturer License & Lounge Endorsement
Food and by-the-glass beverage service allowed with a lounge endorsement
At least 80% of liquor purchased for sale in the lounge must be of the manufacturer’s products. No more than 20% of the total value of liquor purchased for the lounge may be from other manufacturers.
Off-premise sales (a.k.a. “off-sales)
Allowed with on-site store endorsement.
Overlapping floor plans allowed
A lounge may overlap a sampling area and/or an on-site store.
No pipeline from brewery to lounge allowed.
While growlers are permitted to be filled from the manufacturing facility via the retail endorsement, the LDB classifies this differently within their LDB sales agreements.
Which Brew Pub Application Stream Costs More?
BC liquor license fees are much more economical for brew pubs that apply for a manufacturer license and additional endorsements for a lounge and on-site store.
Current Provincial application fees and annual renewal fees are as follows:
Liquor Primary and Manufacturer License
Liquor primary license: $4400
Manufacturer license (brewery): $550.
Off-premise sales endorsement: no fee if applied for with the initial liquor primary license.
Total annual fees: $4950.
Manufacturer License with Endorsements
Manufacturer (brewery) license: $550.
Lounge endorsement: $330.
On-site store endorsement: $330.
Total annual fees: $1210.
Note: Depending on the type of application the licensee applies for, there may be additional fees for rezoning / land use changes in addition to the fees above.
BC Liquor Licensing Resources for Brew Pubs
For more information about brew pub licensing, please visit the following BC Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch pages:
Get Clarity About BC Liquor Licensing for Brew Pubs
Still confused about which BC liquor licensing application stream is best for your start-up brew pub? That’s okay! It is confusing, though we can help make starting and running your brew pub a much less daunting endeavour. Thrive Liquor & Cannabis Advisors lives and breathes BC liquor licensing. We can give you the guidance you need to make the right decisions, apply for liquor licenses, advise on floor plans, and create policy and training manuals that help you run your brew pub efficiently while remaining compliant.