Small breweries will be able to take advantage of a new provincial incentive.
The Government of Alberta recently announced an incentive that will see eligible breweries pay a 10 cent up to 60 cent mark up, rather than the standard $1.25.
For companies like Ponoka’s Siding 14 Brewing, the announcement is good news considering a previous incentive had to be removed due to a constitutional challenge. Co-owner Brent Tarasoff said that challenge put into uncertainty a 10-year business plan that many brewers had used.
To promote small breweries in Alberta the province initiated an incentive that would essentially subsidize the $1.25 markup required. It was a 10-year program in its second year that was eventually deemed unconstitutional in June. Two out-of-province breweries not eligible for the subsidy — Steam Whistle Brewery in Ontario, and Great Western Brewing Company in Saskatchewan — won their challenge against the AGLC and the province.
That win changed the business plans of many breweries, including Siding 14.
“We opened in June last year so we got about 19 months out of it,” said Tarasoff.
For him, there was definitely some uncertainty considering the brewery employees 14 people from the area. “The idea behind that (incentive) was to grow small business in Alberta.”
The new change is based on beer production and is open to all breweries. If a brewery produces less than 50,000 hectolitres annually, it is eligible for the lower markup.
“We’re so small scale production that it’s almost insignificant,” said Tarasoff.
If Siding 14 Brewing and other brewers grow their annual production they too will move up to the next spot in the incentive.
For now, Ponoka’s brewery is all about getting the word out. The company recently was approved to sell beer in British Columbia but they had to hire an importer to make it happen.
Currently the company is working on being able to sell its beer in Saskatchewan but the processes requires a company to be invited to sell.
For companies looking to sell in Alberta, the process appears quite a bit easier as the province is the only one in Canada that has fully privatized alcohol sales.
“You go into Ontario…I don’t know that I’ve seen an Alberta brewery there. I think there’s maybe 50 skews from Alberta there,” said Tarasoff.
Due to that issue, Alberta issued a trade challenge against Ontario. Included in the incentive announcement the province pointed that its easier to buy beer from around the country in Alberta than in any other province.
“It doesn’t make any sense that it’s easier to sell Alberta beer in Tokyo than it is in Toronto. It’s unacceptable,” stated Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade.