Local microbreweries find a safety net in new online purchasing platform

By Michael Boriero - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Local microbreweries find a safety net in new online purchasing platform

When the pandemic struck Quebec soil and the province entered into a lockdown, thousands of businesses suffered tremendous losses, including a budding microbrewery industry.
But rather than sit back and watch the money bleed, Sébastien Huot took it upon himself to create a platform for artisanal beer shops to sell their unique blends online. Huot, who runs several Festibière de Québec events, launched Je Bois Local this week.
“We had a lot of time to think about it,” he said. “We have three Festibière, a BBQ festival, a hot air balloon festival; we have a lot of festivals, so with everything down this summer we looked for a way to help out microbreweries.”
While some places already have an online presence, many microbreweries thrive on in-person sales, which has been difficult these last few months, he continued. It’s even more difficult for the artisanal shops; they don’t have the same reach as industrial microbreweries.
“For the industrial, you can go to grocery stores or depanneurs, you can sell to restaurants, but artisanal you can’t do that, you just have the right to sell at your place,” Huot explained.
According to the website’s creator, Je Bois Local already features about 70 microbreweries, and the list continues to grow. There are four locations in the Eastern Townships: Canton Brasse, Refuge des Brasseurs, Microbrasserie Coaticook, and Microbrasserie Moulin 7.
Quebecers can visit jeboislocal.ca, choose a location, select any canned or bottled beer on the menu and pick up their merchandise without ever stepping foot inside a building. Coaticook Microbrewery manager Etienne Leclerc is already making sales on the new platform.
“We’ve had multiple orders come in this way, people who really want to make less contact because this way they can pay in advance, even though we do have all of the necessary sanitary measures in place,” said Leclerc.
He added that Je Bois Local is a great initiative bringing microbreweries closer together in one online location. It’s also Quebec-based, which made the platform that much more enticing, Leclerc continued.
Steven Slab, the co-owner of Orford’s Canton Brasse, said signing up to the online platform was a no-brainer, especially with several regions in the province turning into red zones. Ownership is covering its bases in case there’s another lockdown, he explained.

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