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B.C. craft beer companies unhappy with Alberta tax changes

Click to play video 'Alberta tax on beer worrying B.C. craft brewers' Alberta tax on beer worrying B.C. craft brewers
WATCH: A tax on beer is worrying those that brew craft beer across BC. The Notley government announced beer would be marked up, no matter where it’s produced. Those in the industry say it’s unfair. Kristen Robinson reports – Jul 16, 2016

The B.C. craft brewery industry is criticizing the Alberta government, which is going to charge $1.25 per litre to all brewers regardless of their size starting August 5.

Last fall small brewers had access to lowered beer mark-ups.

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

Gary Lohin, a brewmaster with Central City Brewing, says the changes are essentially a 500 per cent tax increase.

“It doesn’t give anybody a chance of running a business to react on three weeks’ notice,” he says.

“We are probably one of the top three sellers of craft beer out of province craft beer in Alberta. It’s gonna probably cost us upwards of $100,000 a year because of new taxation.”

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He says the change will affect many B.C. breweries that sell beer across the Rockies .

“We kind of expanded the brewery with the intention of sending a lot of beer to Alberta and this will put a damper on the expansion plans we had,” said Graham With, Parallel 49’s head brewmaster.

Lohin says Alberta is trying to get extra revenue from different mediums because their economy is not doing well.

“Based on the rough math is probably going to costs us upwards of $100,000 a year because of the new taxation.”

To level the inter-provincial beer playing field, craft brewers want to see a sliding scale model.

“We believe you should be based on size, not based where beer your beer is made. That’s how it works in B.C., it’s a gradual markup based on size of brewery, not on where it’s made,” says Ken Beattie, Executive Director of the BC Craft Brewers Guild.

“There will be a real devastating effect, and if the price goes up and we can’t be competitive, people will be taking their sales teams out of there.”

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