Beer shortage caused by Molson Coors strike looms in parts of Quebec, bar owners warn – Montreal

The head of the Quebec Bar Owners Association says some foam vendors may soon dry up due to an ongoing strike at a Molson Coors brewery.

In a telephone interview, Renaud Poulin said he has received dozens of calls from pub owners who fear they will run out of beer by next week, especially those in rural areas of the province and under exclusive contract with Molson Coors.

“They think they’re going to have to close their business. A big worry,” he said in French.

Other Quebec beer producers will likely favor deliveries to Montreal and Quebec City, where bars are concentrated, rather than hauling cases to remote areas. “It’s a matter of economics,” Poulin said.

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In a letter dated Thursday to Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon, the Corporation of Bar, Brewery and Tavern Owners of Quebec called on the provincial government to ease restrictions on beer sales and let them buy beers from other retail outlets for resale to the saloon.

Under provincial regulations, bars and restaurants can only sell bottles marked specifically for “on-premises” consumption, as opposed to those for home consumption that are sold in convenience stores and grocery stores.

Owners are now looking outside the province for crates to fill the void left by Molson products, but a limited supply of beer packaged in the branded bottles on site means many pubs are facing a shortage.

On March 25, some 420 workers went on strike at a new Molson Coors plant on the South Shore of Montreal.

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Frederic Bourgeois-Leblanc, a spokesman for Molson Coors, said a contingency plan to get the products to customers is underway and the company is in direct communication with the bar owners trade group.

“As always, our door remains open to negotiate with Teamsters representatives. It is important to mention that they decided to go on strike without even consulting our best offer on March 25th. We remain very disappointed,” he said in an email.

Teamsters Canada spokesman Stephane Lacroix said the union has not heard from Molson and any movement toward a resolution has stalled.

“No negotiations, no contact. Nothing. Management got caught using scabs a few weeks ago, so I guess they’re not too happy with the way things are going,” a he said in an email.

READ MORE: Molson to cut about 190 jobs after brewery moves from Montreal in 2021

Poulin, a sports bar owner in Chateauguay, an off-island suburb of Montreal, said he personally felt the pinch as customers were less satisfied.

“Customers consume less. They stay shorter. They are not happy,” said Poulin, who has run Bar La Chope for 32 years.

“Now Molson’s customers have all gone to Labatt,” although he said the rival brewer’s stocks are also running out in Quebec due to the Molson Coors strike.

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