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‘It’s an 1,100% increase’: Lethbridge brewery owner braces for beer tax hike

Posted by on 24/07/2019

Alberta’s smaller brewers say a dramatic increase in the province’s beer tax will leave a bad taste in consumers’ mouths.

“It’s a little scary. It’s an 1,100 per cent increase in our taxes,” said Kelti Boissonneault, co-owner of Theoretical Brewing Company Ltd. in Lethbridge.

READ MORE: Liquor taxes go up, but Alberta ‘shifts the beer playing field’

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On Tuesday, the NDP government announced it would be setting a $1.25 per-litre markup for beer sold in Alberta regardless of the producer’s size or location, effective August 5, 2016.

“Whatever is produced and consumed in Alberta will be subject to mark up,” Alberta’s Minister of Finance Joe Ceci explained.

Boissonneault said the tax hike could translate into a $2 hike in the cost of a six-pack of beer produced by smaller breweries, such as Theoretical Brewing.

“The tax hike will need to be passed along to consumer,” Boissonneault said. “There is no way a small business like ours can absorb an 1,100 per cent increase.”

READ MORE: Alberta backtracks on graduated beer tax for craft brewers

The government did consult with industry stakeholders before announcing the change, including the Alberta Small Brewers Association. There is also a yet-to-be announced grant in the works for Alberta’s smaller brewers meant to offset the markup.

“We are hoping to… [keep] our prices as close as possible, but we don’t have enough information,” Boissonneault said.

Details of that grant will be rolled out in the coming weeks in the meantime Boissonneault will be meeting with members of the NDP government is hoping to get answers to a lot of questions.

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