Photo contributed Opened in 2000 by Brian MacIsaac and Rebecca Kneen, Crannóg Ales sits in the middle of Sorrento’s Left Fields organic farm. The couple brews only organic ales, focusing on local and seasonal specialty ingredients, most of which come from their own farm.

Concern brewing over ALC changes

Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors support Crannóg Ales

Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors will go to bat for Crannog Ales.

Although the Agricultural Land Commission has not restricted the local, organic brewery, owners Rebecca Kneen and Brian MacIsaac are concerned it is only a matter of time before they either have to expand into barley production and malting or close shop because of new provincial regulations.

Kneen attended a March 23 board meeting to explain Crannog’s dilemma and ask directors for support in fighting the province’s new on-farm regulations which stipulate 50 per cent of beer ingredients must be grown on-farm.

Kneen explained that new regulations specify that hops are not considered a brewing ingredient, and that on-farm breweries must produce 50 per cent of their barley needs on their own farm.

This shuts out both Crannog Ales and Persephone Brewing from the Sunshine Coast as neither farm brewery has sufficient land to produce any percentage of their malting barley needs and neither brewery runs a malthouse alongside the brewery.

“This regulation would mean that Crannog would have to not only quadruple its farm size, but increase industrial production on farmland by putting in their own malthouse,” said Kneen prior to the meeting. “Malting is a different process, requiring its own extensive facility and yearlong storage, which is very land-intensive.”

Since a March 17 Observer story, Kneen has been in phone contact with officials at the Agricultural Land Commission and Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick.

But, she added, since the legislature has closed pending the May 9 election, “he (Letnick) won’t do anything, there has been no instruction to staff or commitment to change, both in conversation individually and together with Persephone.”

Kneen said she has been advised the ALC may consider an exemption for Crannog, which has been operating many years with provincial approval.

But she is concerned for other breweries and eateries that might be planning to open in the province and said she and MacIsaac, who are very much in support of sustainable agriculture, have taken parts of the regulations that affect them and rewritten them to be more in keeping with the regulations concerning wineries.

Area C South Shuswap director Paul Demenok suggested a letter be sent to Letnick expressing the board’s concern and asking him to review and amend the regulations.

Salmon Arm Coun. Kevin Flynn wondered why the ALC is pursuing Persephone but has not gone after Crannog to this point.

“This just doesn’t make sense to be treating breweries so much differently to wineries… From what I understand of this, I am fully supportive of you,” he said, calling for the board to support Crannog and a recommendation to present concerns to the government through the Union of BC Municipalities. “It’s too bad we didn’t get this earlier because to get a strong message to UBCM we should get it to SILGA as a late resolution.”

Demenok moved the board write a letter to the agriculture minister and the ALC, along with a request for the matter to be accepted by Southern Interior Local Government Association as a late resolution. The motion was seconded by Flynn and supported unanimously by the board.

“I support writing letters and suggest we send a letter to our MLA as well,” said Salmon Arm Coun. Chad Eliason. “Get the resolution to SILGA by Friday and, as president, I will make sure it gets onto the agenda so it can go through SILGA to UBCM.”

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