Here at Tipsy Diaries, we’re always happy when we see a country putting a day aside to celebrate all that’s great about getting a little merry. The more countries do it, the more excuses we have to partake in a little celebration! The best known of all the national beer celebrations is St. Patrick’s Day – which for many people is the only 24 hour period in which they’ll even consider drinking an Irish stout – but there are many lesser-known celebrations. There’s even an International Beer Day, which happens on the first Friday of every August (and if you missed it this year, then shame on you!)
In what feels like a long-overdue move, we’re delighted to welcome Canada to the list of countries which is celebrating its beer scene! Canadian Beer Day will happen for the first time ever on October 9th, 2019, and is planned to be an annual event moving ahead into the future. Curiously, October 9th is a Wednesday, so perhaps the organizers are looking to start things off gently and see how it goes before they commit themselves to a country-wide party. It’s either that, or nobody in Canada is expecting much work to get done on the Thursday morning.
In putting a day of beer celebration into their calendar, Canada is adding to a growing list of days which celebrate all the best things about Canadian life. There are already days for donuts, ice cream, and (of course) maple syrup, among others. We love a good donut as much as the next person, but beer felt like it was conspicuous by its absence from the calendar. We don’t know why it’s taken so long to reach this point, but we’re glad it’s finally arrived.
Although it isn’t internationally recognized as such, Canada is a hotbed of beer brewing. There are approximately 1,000 known breweries within the country, brewing beers of all tastes and strengths. The beer scene in Canada is probably more comparable to the United Kingdom than the United States, with a focus on going ‘down the pub’ with a real ale. So synonymous is pub drinking with British culture that they even have a mobile slots game over there called ‘Down The Pub,’ which does big business on British mobile slots websites. Casino games are, of course, what has replaced fruit machines in the corner of bars and pubs as the habit has moved into the digital age, just as smaller microbreweries have begun to replace large ones at the pumps in Canada and Britain. A hard-earned beer at the end of a long day is a tenet of Canadian life, and we’re glad it’s finally going to be celebrated as such.
What the first Canadian Beer Day sadly lacks – at least at the time of writing – is any support from the Canadian Government. This is not an ‘official’ day of celebration, and as such isn’t being treated as a national holiday. The naming of the day, and the decision to celebrate it, comes from Saskatoon’s Great Western Brewing Company – although we understand that other breweries have been invited to co-operate with the initiative and host their own festivities in their local areas. An organization called Beer Canada have also been involved in the organization and promotion side of the event and view it as a day for brewers, beer drinkers, and farmers to celebrate together. Farmers and brewers enjoy a close economic relationship within the country – farmers supply Canadian malting barley, and breweries purchase over a quarter of a million tons of the barley each calendar year.
If you’re in Canada – whether you’re a permanent resident or happen to be visiting on that particular Wednesday – you’re cordially invited to get involved with the fun. Formal barbecue events are expected to be held, but curling rinks will be getting in on the action too – so you can enjoy your Canadian beers in the warmth or in the cold! Some pubs will be opening earlier than usual to accommodate for what organizers hope will be an increase in trade on the day.
The appointment of Canadian Beer Day comes during a time of vibrancy and growth in the Canadian beer market. Beer Canada’s figures for 2019, which were published in May, show that the number of breweries currently trading is more than double the number of registered breweries in business the last time a full survey was performed in 2013. Alberta has been particularly busy, with 42 of the breweries there confirming to Beer Canada that they’ve opened their doors within the past twelve months.
There’s also an increasing preference among the public for beer which has been brewed at home rather than imported from abroad. Overall sales of beer were up 0.3% compared to 2017, but sales of imported beer fell by 3.4%, indicating that Canadians have been drinking a little more than they used to, but are enjoying the produce of their own breweries when they choose to go for a drink. The rate at which Canadian beer outsells imported beer is now as high as six bottles of domestic beer sold for every one bottle sold from abroad.
In total, sales of beer contributed $14bn to the Canadian economy, including almost six billion of tax. Tax is something of a thorny issue for drinkers in the country, though – almost 50% of the price of every beer sold in the country is tax, and the tax increases as sales increase. Many in the country feel like beer will eventually become too expensive for the average drinker if there isn’t a change in policy.
If beer is becoming more expensive, then who knows whether there will be enough people still drinking it in ten years time to make a national beer day celebration worthwhile? With that in mind, we say have a tipple while the going is still good, and you can afford to buy a bottle without putting yourself in debt to do so. Canada, we shall be sure to raise a glass to you on October 9th – and if we like it, we’ll have another!