Craft breweries in London have no plans to reduce the price of their beer to a dollar, but one local establishment does have a plan to give back to the community instead.
For the month of August, Storm Stayed Brewing Company on Wharncliffe Road is donating a dollar from every pour and six-pack of Daybreak Blonde Ale to Anova, a women’s rights agency and shelter in London.
“We, as a business, cannot afford to sell beer at a dollar and sustain ourselves,” explained Justin Bélanger, one of Storm Stayed’s owners.
“While we can’t do that, we can help our local neighbours who will, unfortunately it seems, be losing funding, potentially.”
Jane McGregor, Anova’s director of community services, said the number of people they’ve been helping has “increased exponentially,” and the agency is “fearful” about the future of its provincial government funding.
Changes to the sex-ed curriculum and a significantly smaller commitment for mental health than the previous Liberal government leave McGregor particularly concerned about investments into Ontario’s Gender-Based Violence Strategy that launched March 1.
Storm Stayed’s charitable commitment is not a political action against the Ford goverment explained Bélanger, the buck-a-beer challenge simply served as a jumping off point for something the brewery considers important.
“We really believe in local aspects,” he explained. Storm Stayed hosts the Old South Farmer’s Market in its parking lot Thursdays, tries to buy local ingredients for its kitchen and brewery, and partners with local businesses for its merchandise, Belanger noted.
“We were planning to start donating some of our profits to charities that we thought did work within the community … this buck-a-beer that was announced gave us a good opportunity to move forward with the project.”
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Forked River Brewing, London Brewing Co, Anderson Craft Ales, and Railway City Brewing in St. Thomas have all said they also won’t be participating in Doug Ford’s buck-a-beer challenge.
“The only way that can take place is by lowering the quality of the ingredients to the point of it being, quite frankly, slightly dangerous,” said Jeff Pastorius, of London Brewing Co-op.
“If consumers would like to drink corn sugar … you’re welcome to do that so save a few dollars.”
Dave Reed, of Forked River Brewing, said the east-end brewery is also tossing around ideas of how to put a spin on the challenge.
“Buck-a-beer is not going to happen from pretty much any craft brewer,” he explained.
“If there’s a way we can use it to leverage, to raise some money for charities … that’s a great way to put things on its head and use this for something that’ll actually do some good.”
Small craft breweries across the province have decried Ford’s challenge to lower the price of craft beer, saying it would be impossible to reduce the price without a severe drop in quality.
In Ottawa, Dominion City Brewing is launching a blonde ale under the name “Buck-A-Beer.” One dollar from each can will go towards refugee integration efforts in the city.
— With files from 980 CFPL’s Jaclyn Carbone and Christian D’Avino.