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Napanee craft brewer says buck-a-beer benefits large, multinational breweries

Click to play video: 'The Napanee Beer Company owner says buck a beer not possible for craft brewers' The Napanee Beer Company owner says buck a beer not possible for craft brewers
Buck a beer not affordable says Napanee craft brewer – Aug 8, 2018

Fresh on the heels of Premier Doug Ford’s announcement that the buck-a-beer program will be rolling out at the end of the month, a Napanee craft beer brewer says his company won’t be participating.

“An aluminum can today costs twice what it did a few months ago. That’s a big part of a can of beer,” said Geordan Saunders the owner of the Napanee Beer Company. “The taxes that we pay to the provincial government are substantial and again are one of the biggest costs we face.”

READ MORE: Local Ottawa brewery reveals its own ‘buck-a-beer’ challenge

Saunders doesn’t think there are any craft breweries in Ontario that can produce a beer for $1 and turn a profit.

At least not without compromising quality, which is something Saunders says he refuses to do.

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“There’s no way I could make a beer that I was proud to sell to you and charge a buck for it.”

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Even producing between 6,000 to 8,000 cans of beer a day, Saunders says the volume isn’t enough to bring his costs down enough.

He says the large national and international beer companies are the ones that can afford to make a $1 beer, and are the only companies that will benefit from the provincial government’s buck-a-beer program.

“They have this incredible economy of scale that allows them to make a product like a buck-a-beer and still eke out a little bit of profit on that.”

At the buck-a-beer announcement the Premier also said there are no tax breaks or subsidies for beer producers taking part in the program, but added that there could be some breaks offered to breweries through discounts and promotions at LCBO stores.

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READ MORE: Peterborough’s Publican House Brewery won’t take part in ‘buck-a-beer’

Saunders currently sells his beer in 100 LCBO stores, and says premium shelf space at the LCBO’s doesn’t come free for beer producers.

“That space right there otherwise would sell for just under $2 million all in. So that’s a bunch of money the LCBO would otherwise be taking in that they’re not, because it’s being given for free to a multi-national brewer.”

That’s the part that sticks in Saunders’ craw.

He says craft breweries are small businesses, creating jobs in Ontario, paying taxes and he’d like to see the province supporting them, rather than the large multinational beer makers.

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