Kingston-area brewery reacts to potential Beer Store contract termination by Ford government

Click to play video: 'Brewery applauds Ford government for potential Beer Store contract termination'
Brewery applauds Ford government for potential Beer Store contract termination
WATCH: MacKinnon Brothers Brewery in Bath Ont., believes the elimination of the province's 10-year contract with The Beer Store will provide an even playing ground in the beer industry – May 28, 2019

Editors note:  The title of this story originally stated that MacKinnon Brothers Brewery applauded the provincial government’s decision to end the contract with the Beer Store. The title of the story has been changed to reflect the owner’s more nuanced view of the recent turn of events.

Beer and wine sold in corner stores could become a reality in Ontario.

On Monday, the provincial government tabled legislation that would terminate its 10-year contract with The Beer Store. The agreement, signed by the previous Liberal government, included three of the beer industry’s biggest players; Labatt, Molson, and Sleeman.

“Nowhere else in the world does a government give the biggest beer companies this privilege,” said Finance minister of Ontario Vic Fedeli about the 10-year contract with the three global companies.

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Now, one microbrewery in Bath, Ont. is hoping that the end of this contract and the introduction of beer in corner stores will be its chance to increase sales.

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“Hopefully the government can clean things up and make it a more even playing field, because we want to sell our product around the province but it’s hard to compete when these stores have an invested interest in products,” said Dan MacKinnon, owner of MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co.

Dan and his brother, Ivan, have been growing hops and malting barley for five years, but farming is nothing new for the MacKinnon family. The land on which the brewery is located has been in the family since 1784, but the farm-based brewery is the newest addition.

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“We have our retail shop off the road, and we attract many tourists and locals, but having our beer in corner stores would be a game changer,” said Dan.

MacKinnon Beer can be purchased in multiple eastern Ontario LCBO locations, and in pubs across the region and in Toronto. But with the recent rumblings that the Ford government plans to terminate its agreement with The Beer Store, the family is preparing for an expansion.

“We are building a 10,000-square-foot facility that will be used to can and bottle our beer and house more fermentation tanks, which will allow us to produce more beer,” said Dan.

Queen’s University professor at the Smith School Business Ken Wong, however, says that the provincial government’s plan to leave The Beer Store will drain beer consumers wallets.

“For a government that has consistently preached $1-beer and low cost of beer, for them to encourage a distribution arrangement will ultimately raise prices for consumers and a burden on taxpayers,” said Wong.

Wong continued on to say that The Beer Store is a highly efficient distribution model, providing large deliveries to a small number of locations, which wouldn’t be the case if cornerstores sold beer.  Distribution, however, isn’t the only factor that would lead to higher prices. Policing would need to increase.

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“Now you’re going to have to have some feet on the street doing that regulation and the probability of underage drinking will rise,” said Wong.

In recent months, the PC government announced that it intends to loosen other alcohol-related restrictions, such as alcohol being served at 9 a.m., in restaurants and bars, alcohol consumption in parks, and legalizing tailgating parties at sporting events.

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