This past Sunday, Left Field Brewery helped host a dim sum festival in the building they’ll start brewing their beer in next year. Lining the walls were Left Field T-shirts, pennants and other merchandise you might expect from a baseball-themed brewery.

But in the hands of their patrons was anything but Left Field beer. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario informed the small brewery last week it was technically illegal for them to sell their brew to anyone but the LCBO, the Beer Store or a licensed restaurant.

The issue is that Left Field is a “contract brewery” -- they use outside, more established breweries to make their beverages. The prohibitive costs of leasing a building and purchasing the necessary equipment make contract brewing an attractive way to get into the beer game.

But as co-owner Mandie Murphy was informed, because they don’t go through either of the stores and don’t yet have their own brewery, they’re not allowed to sell their product at festivals and other events with “special occasion permits.”

“My marketing plan was built specifically around sampling at these events,” says Murphy. “It’s the single most efficient and effective way to sample your product and bring brand awareness as a new brewery.”

But because the LCBO doesn’t do kegs and the Beer Store fees are too steep for the fledgling brewer, Murphy’s hands are tied -- especially frustrating considering Left Field has already ordered the equipment and leased the space they need to make and sell their own beer in early 2015.

“This just emerged out of the blue,” says Paul Dickey, who is responsible for four contract breweries of his own.

“People have been doing this for years, participating in festivals. I don’t know how this came to light. But it caught Left Field out in left field.”

Despite being the brewmaster of Cheshire Valley, Double Trouble, ARCH, and Stouffville brewing companies, Dickey says he won’t have to change anything about the way he sells beer. Three of them sell through the LCBO or Beer Store, and the other gets sold by the brewery he contracts to make his brew.

It’s a law that Dickey says catches only those who have their own manufacturer’s licence, but aren’t yet set up to manufacture their own beer.

“It’s unfortunate. I believe that it will likely be changed because it’s not a health or safety issue at all,” he says. “It’s almost a glitch in the wording of the regulations.”

But even if it’s only a glitch, it’s one that will cost Murphy at least 60,000 people who may have otherwise tasted Left Field’s beer at festivals this summer. And despite having their product on tap at bars throughout Toronto, it has her a bit anxious.

“We’re building a brewery right now and we have an expectation of a certain level of awareness of our brand and demand for our products that we hope to have when we open our doors next year,” she says.

“Without being able to get out there and sample all summer long -- it has me concerned.”