November 10, 2016 5:39 pm

Great Western, Steam Whistle earn court injunction in Alberta beer battle

Two brewing companies filed complaints regarding what they consider an unconstitutional markup and grant program imposed by the Alberta government.

Tyler Schroeder / Global News
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An injunction has been granted after two Canadian brewing companies filed constitutional challenges over the Alberta government’s markup on out-of-province beer.

The markup was set to $1.25 per litre on Aug. 5, regardless of where the beer is made. Alberta brewers were given access grants to off-set the higher tax.

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READ MORE: Great Western Brewing expects ‘substantial’ hit on sales after Alberta beer markup

Great Western Brewing argued Alberta’s Small Brewers Development Program gives a discriminatory benefit to Alberta breweries.

“This is a serious issue for us. We’re relieved. We’re thrilled with the ruling, but there’s still a long road ahead,” said Great Western president and CEO Michael Micovcin.

Steam Whistle Brewing filed a separate, but similar complaint.

On Tuesday, an Alberta judge granted an injunction in both matters.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan brewer taking Alberta government to court over beer pricing policy

The action means breweries will pay the markup in place prior to Aug. 5.

The difference will be held in a trust pending the outcome of the injunction.

“It’s a good first step for us. It certainly now allows us to compete again in the Alberta market,” Micovcin said.

The courts will hear the case in June 2017 to determine whether the markup is unconstitutional.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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