Beer. That golden amber liquid that makes life tolerable. Beer has been around since 3100 BC and is a staple at all weddings, sporting events, backyard BBQ’s and church sermons ever since. Beer commercials consume our television screens and product placement means we see beer in movies and print ads without even noticing (or do we?). Ahhh, beer.
America loves their beer and rank as the 14th highest beer consumer per captia in the world. But in Canada, we are no slouches either. We rank 25th per capita (take that New Zealand!) and Canadian’s have an unproven reputation of being able to drink copious amounts of beer before we start to act like Americans.
We can get American beers in Canada as can American’s get Canadian beer in America. Any local pub in Canada will have just as many Labatt Blue’s and Molson Canadians as they will Bud Lights and Coors in their stocked coolers. But the price? Well, that’s where the two countries differ greatly.
Canadian beers are subject to higher taxes (a ‘sin tax’ as it is referred) and we pay handsomely for our beers. How much? Are you sitting down? 24 cans of 355 ml Molson Canadian (our most popular beer) costs $43.95. That means if you buy a two-four and hand the cashier a $50 you only have change rattling in your pocket when you leave. If you can’t afford a full case, a 6-pack of the same beer will run you $12.50. All our beers cost in the same range so you might be able to find a cheaper case, but only by $2-$5 per case. If that.
Now you could wait for our beer to go on sale, except our beer doesn’t go on sale. There are rules and laws against that. Sure, every once and while we get $5 off a 24 pack. But its seasonal and hardly a drop in the bucket.
Beers at local bars are equally mortgage-payment-priced. The average price for a pint of beer at a bar is $4.95. Most establishments run the cost of a beer over $5.50. We do not have Happy Hour in Canada. It is illegal. So it is $5.50 plus 13% tax for every beer. Drink six beers at a bar and you are looking at around $40. Ouch.
Adding salt to the wound, is the fact that in most of Canada you can only buy beer in government and brewery controlled ‘Beer Stores’. We don’t see liquor in supermarkets, corner stores or gas stations. You have to find the nearest Beer Store which might be miles from anywhere you find yourself when you have a thirst for the amber ale.
America is different. We travel to the U.S. regularly and you can get a 24-pack can on Coors sometimes for as low as $13.99. And you can buy beer nearly anywhere – Wal-Marts even! Your bars have Happy Hours and you can procure buckets of beer at almost every bar you walk into. Our jealousy runneth over.
We would imagine that if we lived in the U.S. we would be drunk dead of alcohol poisoning. The idea that a $20 in my pocket could give me enough beer for two nights as opposed to the Quicken Loan we have to take out for the same case in Canada is extraordinary.
So I may knock America for many things – your politics, your ignorance or things outside of your own borders, your education system. But when it comes to beer, damned if you guys don’t get it right!