Company: Sidekick Brewing.
Type: BC Liquor Manufacturing Application with a Lounge Endorsement.
Thrive Liquor & Cannabis Advisors worked closely with Sidekick Brewing principals on provincial and municipal licensing requirements and applications, public consultation, compliance-readiness, SKU setup, and training. In July 2020, two years before the brewery’s grand opening, we began by working with BC Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) on obtaining a Manufacturer license.
Starting a liquor business in BC requires determination, patience and agility. Each start-up faces obstacles on the journey to opening day. Some of those challenges are expected and planned for while others are unknowns that must be met head on as they happen. Sidekick Brewing and Thrive Advisors had to navigate several “unknowns” along the way, not the least of which was doing much of the work during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
About Sidekick Brewing
Sidekick Brewing was started by two friends, Mike Reimer – a mechanical engineer, and Barnaby McRae – a science teacher, who both shared a love of beer. In 2016, the two began daydreaming about opening their own brewery. In 2022, their vision became a reality with the opening of Sidekick Brewing in Chilliwack, BC.
Visit Sidekick Brewing.
Sidekick Brewing licensing setup is typical of many BC craft brewers:
- BC liquor manufacturer license
Typical LCRB processing time for is 4-6 months.
- Lounge endorsement
Allows licensees to sell liquor by the glass. 80% of products sold must be made on-site by the manufacturer, while 20% can be from other producers. A lounge endorsement requires public consultation and a municipal lounge application.
- On-site retail store endorsement, tasting and touring
While a lounge endorsement requires public consultation, retail, tasting and touring do not. See Manufacture’s Terms & Conditions Handbook.
Problems & Challenges
- COVID-19 presented challenges for the public consultation process. We had to quickly adapt to working completely online. Organizing, planning and accurate reporting became crucial.
- Lounge application planning and public consultation was completed as early as possible to allow enough lead time for opening.
- The construction plans changed and were adapted due to city requirements and community feedback which pushed out timelines.
- Changes to floor plans presented issues with occupancy load. During construction, with lounge construction underway, the client discovered that interior occupancy number estimated was too low.
Key learning: consider how floor plans and layout can impact operational efficiency and potential revenues. Construction changes can impact the application process and timeline. A public consultation and municipal license approval is contingent upon originally submitted plans with a proposed occupant load. If those plans change, that’s ok; however, if the initial proposed occupancy needs to go higher, the application must go back to public consultation and re-approval. It’s critical to get those numbers right.
- As the brewery grows, occupancy load may have to increase to keep up with demand. The structural changes and a new occupancy limit would require another public consultation.
- Once LCRB and municipal licenses were approved, a sales agreement with the Liquor Distribution Branch was set up and signed, product SKUs registered, PST number obtained, and a sales reporting process set up.
Key learning: once the Manufacturing license is issued by the LCRB, this only allows the licensee to commence manufacturing. There are still quite a few requirements from the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) that must be dealt with prior to the licensee being able to sell their products to customers.
The Thrive Liquor & Cannabis Advisors Solution
Thrive Liquor & Cannabis Advisors provided Sidekick Brewing with the following services:
- Applied for a Manufacturing license application with tasting and retail.
- Applied for a lounge application (including interior main, interior mezzanine and patio).
- Applied to City of Chilliwack for a development permit for the purposes of a lounge endorsement approval and ran the public consultation process required. Worked with the local community when concerns about the building and noise mitigation were voiced. Solutions were implemented to address those concerns.
- Conducted a site-readiness review and walk-through in preparation for a visit from the licensing inspector. Recorded inspection findings and communicated changes required for final approval.
- Ensured required Serving it Right certifications were in place, conducted a compliance and enforcement review.
- Helped with LDB onboarding, LDB sales agreement and SKU registration.
- Provided SKU registration training and LDB reporting training.
- Worked with client accountants to outline LDB requirements and ongoing needs.
- Provided licensee guidance and advice ad-hoc as the team required. Readily available over the entire duration of the application to outline and communicate the provincial and municipal regulatory processes.
Thrive Liquor & Cannabis Advisors is proud of the work we accomplished for Sidekick Brewing. As a result of our experience, knowledge and guidance:
- All BC liquor license applications and endorsements were approved.
- Milestone deadlines were met. Because we monitored and coordinated construction and inspection timelines so closely, they were kept in sync and didn’t result in unnecessary gaps of time between construction completion and inspection.
- Inspections were completed on time and because the licensee was prepared for their inspections, the license was issued quickly.
- Sidekick Brewing was able to start manufacturing right away and had time to create an inventory of product while they were finalizing their LDB SKU registrations in preparation for opening their doors to the public.
- Future needs and issues were identified and future-action plans implemented (e.g., letter expiry dates, LCRB inspection requirements).
Liquor Manufacturer Startup? Get Thrive Liquor & Cannabis Advisors On Your Side
If you’re considering starting a brewery or other liquor manufacturing facility in BC, you need our liquor license application services, liquor retail operations consulting, and strategic planning services. Our work simplifies and streamlines the process. Our liquor consultants free up your time, ensure that licensing and approval milestones are on time, and increase the chances of application approval.
If you’re looking for trusted advisors who work in partnership with you to ensure the success of your business, let’s talk.
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