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Guelph brewers report successful summer at local farmers' markets

This summer marked the first that Ontario shoppers could purchase beer at farmers' markets
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Rob O'Flanagan/GuelphToday file photo

With a season's worth of farmers' market sales behind them, Guelph breweries are reporting positive results.

While Ontario may have officially announced it would begin allowing eligible brewers to sell their beer at farmers' markets last week, the provincial government actually quietly gave brewers across the province the O.K. several months ago. 

In Guelph, local breweries took a collaborative approach. Under the association Guelph.Beer, made up of five commercial brewers in the city, a Guelph beer booth was set up at eight farmers' markets in the region including Guelph, Kitchener, Cambridge, Elora, Erin, Acton, Georgetown and Rockwood. 

Along with allowing shoppers access to a wide variety of brews, the set-up was also efficient for producers. 

"It was a way for us to be at more places and share the resources because we're all smaller businesses," Brad McInerney, marketing manager at Wellington Brewery explained. 

Guelph.Beer is made up of Wellington Brewery, Brothers Brewing, Royal City Brewing. Fixed Gear Brewing and Sleeman. 

McInerney said the first season at farmers' markets was "a huge success."

"We didn't know what to expect going into it because it was an entirely new program and we just saw massive success, a lot of sales were stronger than we expected," he continued. 

Allowing sales at farmers' market is something Ontario Craft Brewers have been pushing for for a long time and producers are happy to see it realized, McInerney said. 

"It just feels like a really natural opportunity when people are going out to grab some local produce to be able to grab some local craft beer in their bag as well," he said. "And that just feels like a great combination and a lot of convenience for people."

Guelph.Beer is currently working on establishing a schedule for winter farmers markets in the region, McInerney said. They're also looking forward to next summer where hopefully dependant on pandemic restrictions  they'll also be able to offer shoppers tasting samples, he continued.

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