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Opinion: Brew-Your-Own Bitters Just Another Excuse to Drink

DIY workshops is a marketing strategy to increase alcohol sales

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Reported by Nathan Gan

It’s no secret: British Columbians love their alcohol, especially the craft-made and locally produced kind.

And while drinking booze in moderation isn’t inherently a bad thing, when organizations start marketing brewing as a hobby, the line needs to be drawn between fun learning opportunities and a pathway towards alcohol abuse.

A study done in 2016, by the University of Victoria, shows the average adult in British Columbia consumes around 720 bottles of beer, or 124 bottles of wine, per year, a statistic that’s been on the rise in recent years.

The study suggests a link between B.C.’s increased imbibing and reforms allowing for new liquor marketing strategies, like happy hours which increase the accessibility of alcohol.

One such marketing strategy has been to build on Vancouver’s craze for “create-your-own” workshops. Whether it’s T-shirts or tinctures, there has always been an appetite in this city for learning how to make personalized versions of popular products using natural or local ingredients.

Recently, Tailored Spirits, a South Vancouver distillery hosted the Stanley Park Ecology Society’s “create-your-own” workshop. They invited participants to create their own bitters using foraged plants from the park such as Cinchona bark. Bitters are liquors flavoured with plants which, in the past, have been marketed as digestives and medicinal products, as well as cocktail additives.

Such workshops are, in fact, a wholly unnecessary excuse for attendants to drink while paying for an activity simple enough to do in your own home. Companies that capitalize on the thirst of Vancouverites for small-batch, locally made products, risk turning fun hobbies into bad habits.

However benevolent the intentions of the ecology society were, the result was that more alcohol was sold. If gaining knowledge of local foliage was the major intention of these events, an interactive tour of the parks would suffice.

The less that communities normalize the consumption of liquor through do-it-yourself events, the more chance consumers have to search out legitimately constructive life choices. Choices that would be more invigorating than any Cinchona bark bitters.

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