So after we settled in, David went for a couple of dips in Johnny's in-ground pool, becoming, according to Johnny, the first person to use it this year. It was sunny and about 30C so perfect day for it. Also primo Day Drinking weather!
Now Johnny's wife, Trish, and daughter Julia (my god-daughter) were down in Vegas at a dance competition so David quickly dubbed it "The Men's Weekend." That meant delicious junk food with zero nutritional value, many juice boxes for David and well, copious amounts of beer for Daddy and Uncle Johnny as we relaxed pool-side all afternoon and evening.
But first, it was a matter of picking up supplies. As Johnny was home by himself all week, there was zero food in the house because guys flying solo seldom make their own food. We're just that lazy.
Well, not entirely true, I suppose. Once when Lady Polk left Drunk Polkaroo alone for a weekend, he posted a picture of his dinner - eight BBQed hot dogs. No buns. Just the dogs. Funniest and most "guy" food picture I've ever seen.
Now I was set. I had brought six Muskoka Detour (Session) IPAs for the afternoon and six Muskoka Hazed and Confused Juicy IPAs for the evening (when Johnny and I tend to talk long into the night and even into early morning.) Bought them at my Beer Store because while it might not be your first craft beer destination, we offer the same six, 12 and 24 price breaks that the brewery does. So we're great for volume purchases, such as mine. And that's just extra money for more beer. Or pesky bills, if you're responsible. (Okay... so then for me, more beer.)
But we needed juice for my boy and of course, Budweiser for Uncle Johnny. And ice. Lots of ice. So we were off to a Whitby Beer Store because, of course, TBS specializes in Bud. Every shape, every size, every container. We are most definitely your only Bud, Canadian and Coors Light beer destination when it comes to volume.
The damnedest thing ever happened in that TBS. While we were waiting, a lady walked up to the clerk and asked him if they had any Corona. No, he explained, they didn't but hopefully soon. Being as it's one of (if not the) biggest seller in the Summer months, I asked him what was going on when we got to the cash, adding that I was also a TBS employee. How could they possibly run out of Corona?
"We haven't seen an LCBO delivery in three weeks," he sighed. Well, if you work at a TBS, your weekly LCBO order is where you get your Corona, Heineken, Stella Artois, basically any beer than comes from out of the province or country. (In the same manner, TBS delivers all Ontario macros and some Ontario micros to the LCBO.)
The harried fellow went on to explain that the Whitby LCBO warehouse had switched to a new distribution computer program whereas as the London LCBO warehouse where we get our LCBO deliveries from had not.
The problem being? "The new program (in Durham) doesn't work," he shook his head. "You should see the LCBO across the street. Its shelves are bare." Oh man, I knew exactly what that was about to mean. You see, that Durham warehouse also supplies most of the Toronto LCBOs and TBS stores. There were about to be A LOT of empty shelves.
Sure enough, exactly one day later, the stories started popping up - online and in the mainstream media. LCBO shelves were going bare. Now if it happened in, say, Timmins, it's a smaller news story. But Toronto? Aye carumba! Whatta mess. And not in the dead of Winter when sales are low. Nope, it had to happen just as the sun and hot weather finally arrived. No wine, no spirits and no imported beer. In fact, the TBS guy told me you'd be lucky to even one Corona in any local restaurants. (Fortunately, I'd never be looking for one though ironically, my store still has plenty.)
Well, I have not waded into the whole Premier Ford And His Trained Seals All Want Beer And Wine In The Corner Stores quagmire in this space yet. For starters, there is a staffed Communications department at the TBS headquarters that deals with contentious issues like this. Suffice it to say, TBS is vehemently opposed to Ford's proposal.
As well, I am a Beer Store employee so anything I say on social media could be considered tainted at best. But TBS would also never ask me to comment on the issue because they have legitimate and qualified folks to do so. I'm just a cash jockey and beer stacker at a retail outlet. As far as full-time employees go, I could best be likened to one-ply toilet paper. Yes, I get the job done but no one, including myself, is exactly sure how. Also, in the same manner as one-ply, it takes me forever to finish the job.
As well, many beer writers flat-out dislike the Beer Store because of the heavy-handed nature of our structure. It's what they consider a monopolistic and monolithic distribution system that heavily favours the macros.
But there have been occasions on social media where because I work for TBS, I have been told I'm... *checks notes* "Satan's Crotch Loofah." That's not fair. I'm Satan's hand-towel at worst. And one of those guest towels he's not allowed to use. (Not a religious man. Does Satan have a wife?)
Also that has nothing to do with TBS. That's just me being me - Satan's guest towel, which I would be regardless of where I work. But this dude has bills to pay, a constantly-hungry kid to feed and, well, very regular trips to Las Vegas that call my name like the siren song of a mermaid. A big part of that is having a regular pay-cheque. Funny how life works.
Anyway, I have stayed out of the whole Beer in Convenience Stores thing until now. Obviously, the convenience stores want beer and wine because, of course, they do. And in this case, they'll ride shotgun with a person I think is a horrible human being to do it. Not being critical of them. Some Ontario craft breweries also believe they will benefit from this and my love for them is both well-known and huge. I very respectfully disagree with them about potentially increased availability of their product should they finally be allowed in convenience stores but we'll get into that in a minute.
Now I am not being critical here because if any Premier can advance your cause, such as Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne did with the grocery stores, well, you jump onto that boat and sail that thank-you ship into the damn ocean, all oars in the water. (Anyone with a nautical background likely just read that sentence and thought, "WTF, man?")
And just like I have friends at the LCBO, I also have a few at the grocery stores who won their bid to sell beer and wine within their stores.
One of those people is Jeff Mitchell, the general manager of Brown's: Your Independent Grocer (under the Loblaws umbrella - ella, ella, eh, eh, eh.) Brown's is up there in Stittsville, Ontario - a cozy suburb outside of Ottawa. Jeff and I will finally meet next month when a number of us craft-lovin' no-good-niks will descend upon a number of Ottawa breweries. The official name of the event is the Ottawa 613 Craft Brewery Invasion and Jeff is one of the hosts, along with Ottawa Matty, Ottawa Joel, Nepean Beer Store Brother Ben and Ottawa Kev (@deadsquid on Twitter. No, I have no idea. Yes, I'll ask him.) Jeff and Kev are the only ones I've never met. However, to see our group banter on Twitter, you'd think we were all long-time friends. We kinda are, though. Jeff and Kev are just friends I haven't met yet, just as Matt, Joel and Ben all were at one point.
Now way back in December 2015, Brown's became one of the first six grocery stores in the Province that won a licence to sell beer and wine. In actual fact, it was Jeff who explained to me how the Master Framework Agreement (MFA) between the Beer Store, the Province (and by extension, LCBOs) actually works. Grocery stores purchase their beer and wine through the LCBO and it has to be on an approved list. They buy it for exact cost (what the consumer pays) and cannot change or up the price.
|On the left is Paul Meeks, the owner of|
Kichesippi Beer Company and on the right,
my man, Nepean Beer Store Brother Ben.
Ben got me some of their 1855 Amber Ale
and it's one of the best Red Ales I've had.
So if you're not making a dime on wine and beer, why stock it? That's a loss leader. Simply this, according to Jeff. It draws people into the store. In a community of 38,000 people with an existing TBS and LCBO, Brown's is now the third place in Stittsville where you can buy beer.
To a craft beer drinker like Jeff, it's a labour of love. In fact, he has brought in so much craft that it's 54% of their beer sales. Yup, Brown's actually sells more craft than macro. That, my friends, is very impressive! It's also the Ontario I hope to live in some day.
So that's TBS, LCBO and grocery stores covered. Now what's up with the convenience stores getting beer and wine?
Well, that's the thing. Nobody knows. Our fearless Premier and his merry gang, whom we'll affectionately call Doug and The Slugs, ripped up the MFA as their last order of business and then called Summer Recess at Queen's Park. Until October. After the federal election. Which, of course, isn't suspicious in the least. It couldn't possibly be that the federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer knows Ford is so unpopular in Ontario that he could tank the all of the Conservative candidates in Ontario come October.
But let's bring this back full circle to my buddy, Johnny, the Bud drinker. "He keeps saying people want this," he noted. "But who exactly? No one I know. I can get it at the Beer Store, LCBO and even Walmart if I need to. How many places do I need?" Exactly.
And if convenience stores do get the right to sell beer and wine, here's another prediction.
|I have enjoyed four Rurban Brewing (Cornwall) beers in|
the past, courtesy of Beer Store Daughter Sassy Cassy, all
solid brews. But this is the sign in their door today. I now
really love this brewery. Off to do a little team-building!
Ford came after the Beer Store because he believes TBS is unpopular, which I guess we kinda are with some. But to the average Bud drinker like Johnny? Hey, we're the place you go. Where you've always gone. And that's still the great majority of the beer drinking population. So I suspect we shall soon see who's even more unpopular - the Beer Store or Doug Ford? Gotta admit, I like our odds. But Scooby Doo Gang, that's it, that's all and I am outta here. Until next time, I remain...