Glass shortage has pubs and distilleries near breaking point

Several distilleries, restaurants and pubs in Ottawa and beyond are among the latest victims of global supply chain disruptions as a shortage of glass bottles has left them wondering how to serve their customers.

Adam Brierley, owner of micro-distillery Ogham Craft Spirits, said he’s been reduced to selling spirits in maple syrup bottles because of this year’s shortage.

His Kanata distillery may not see new glass bottles until 2023, he said.

“If we don’t have that ship to give to customers, there’s a big problem,” Brierley said.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brierley said he could place an order for glass bottles and expect them to arrive within a week.

Now he said he should place orders at least six months in advance – and the bottles available are significantly more expensive.

Ottawa morning5:45Shortage of glass bottles

Owner and distiller Adam Brierley of Ogham Craft Spirits says shortage of glass bottles means his business could wait until 2023 for new glass bottles if it doesn’t place its order early, which could hurt bottom line net of his business.

“There is simply no stock”

The effects of supply chain slowdowns have been felt in many different Canadian sectors, causing furniture prices to rise, cattle producers to run out of feed for their animals and automakers to shut down production and dismiss employees.

The shortage of glass bottles is affecting liquor boards on both sides of the Ottawa River, with the LCBO telling CBC in an email that it was experiencing “global supply chain issues with some products.”

The SAQ, meanwhile, said in an email that it was experiencing shortages of items like glass, corks and labels, causing “some liquor shortages or delayed delivery. “.

Some bars that source spirits from the LCBO said they are now feeling the pinch.

“Our customers don’t usually come in and ask for their favorite drink,” said Mike Estabrooks, owner of Irene’s pub and restaurant in Ottawa. “And the bartender [is now] apologize and say there’s just no stock.”

Mike Estabrooks, seen here earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, says before supply chain delays he could source alcohol for Irene’s Pub from just one LCBO. (Jean Delisle/Radio-Canada)

Estabrooks said he used to be able to get everything he needed for the Glebe bar in one visit to the nearest LCBO. Now he visits at least three different places and sometimes comes back empty-handed.

He said he was stocking up on alcohol for the next two months to avoid shortages in the summer and having to buy everything at once was causing cash flow problems.

Can be forwarded to customers

At Deacon Brodie’s, owner Ken Goodhue said he relies heavily on the LCBO to get single malt Scotch, his bar’s specialty.

But it’s now a rare sight and Goodhue fears he won’t be able to retain his clientele.

While he still serves some of the liquor from the Highlander Pub, which closed in 2020 at the start of the pandemic, Goodhue said it was not a long-term solution.

“We can’t replace him. Once they’re gone, they’re gone,” he said. “Because there is no product available.”

Adam Brierley, the owner of Ogham Craft Spirits, says he’s been reduced to using maple syrup bottles due to the shortage of glass. (Submitted by Adam Brierley)

Brierley said the disruptions are contributing to an increase in the price of glass bottles and their transportation to Canada, with customers likely bearing the brunt.

This leaves him worried about the future of the local drinks industry.

“These compound costs are going to deter people from supporting local, because local will become too expensive,” he said.

“At the end of the day, we have to stay in business, because we need something that supports my family.”

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