Liquor control ... a slippery foe. 

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Sitting inside the Whistler Brewing Company's bus-bay lounge in beautiful, downtown Function Junction, sipping a Lost Lake IPA I was puzzled by the nature of the invisible, yet obviously powerful, force field just steps away. It was a warm, even humid, Thursday afternoon and the place was, well, not exactly rockin' but packed. Groups of locals, many immediately recognizable as FJ business owners and workerbees, came and went, each celebrating something, perhaps simply the fact it was Thursday, they live in Paradise and were happy to be alive.

I kept eyeing the force field. I couldn't discern its power source, the nature of its beam or the potential deadliness of attempting to pass through it. It separated the room we were all enjoying our beverage in from a small, but inviting, patio.

All I knew for sure was it had something to do with possessing beer. I'd figured out that much when I saw a number of people slip right through it on their way in and out. Without beer, they passed unharmed; with beer... who knew. No one was brave enough to tempt fate. Management had been kind enough to erect a notice warning patrons against passing through to the patio with beer.

Turns out the force field's power source was the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch. The license they most graciously endowed upon Whistler Brewing Company allows patrons to enjoy one of WBC's craft-brewed beers inside the old bus bay, but taking beer onto the patio is verboten. No beer out here, dude.

I'm not sure exactly which of the many kinds of LCLB licenses WBC operates under; I don't care. Understanding the nuances of LCLB licenses — to say nothing of its seemingly capricious granting process — makes mastering bridge or chess seem like child's play.

For example, it wasn't that many years ago the local liquor inspector was jackbooting patrons of local restaurants holding food-primary licenses, insisting on seeing their bills to make sure they'd ordered a sufficient dollar amount of food to warrant the amount of alcohol they consumed with it.

For example, there are a number of après establishments at the base of both mountains where children can be exposed to adults drinking alcohol and gorging themselves on mountainous platters of nachos... but only until 8:00 p.m. Lord knows what effect seeing their parents drink and eat after eight might have on them.

For example, at least one dearly departed business had a license — left over from the previous operator — that allowed it to serve food, alcohol and live music. But if the contagious rhythm of the band made your feet just wanna dance, too bad. No dancing allowed under the strictures of the liquor license. Apparently, they needed something called, and I'm not making this up, a patron participation entertainment endorsement in order to let people dance. And yes, Virginia, there is a fine line between swaying under the influence of alcohol and dancing; just don't ask me to explain it.

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