Alberta looks like a Lord of the Rings set, which already makes us love it. The Western Canada province is a landscape of mountains, ice fields, prairies, badlands, some 600 lakes and a vast, little explored coniferous forest full of (we assume) ‘Sqatch. It’s a nature lover’s paradise. Soon, it might be a craft beer lover’s paradise too.
Last Thursday, Alberta’s government announced that small beer brewers in the province could start applying for grants which could eventually run up to $12 million a year for a single brewery (if it met the criteria). Of course, this comes as a way to help offset a pretty significant tax hike on all beer being sold in the province, but the brewers seem to think it’s a big win. According to Global News:
“Alberta’s craft brewing industry is an important part of a more diversified, more resilient economy for all Albertans,” [Finance Minister Joe] Ceci told reporters at a news conference at a local craft brewer.
“With 37 craft brewers and counting, our government knows that we all benefit with great local products.”
It’s called the Alberta Small Brewers Development Program, and it will provide a monthly grant to breweries that produce and sell up to 300,000 hectoliters of product each year, so breweries must submit sales records to the province semi-annually. Once they exceed that mark, they get no money. According to CBC News:
“The 37 or so small breweries aren’t anywhere close to that 300,000 hectolitres as of yet,” Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier said.
If a single producer were to get very close but not exceed that limit, they could receive a maximum grant of $12 million annually, Carlier said.
That’s a brow-raising number. But as mentioned, the program coincides with an equally jaw-dropping markup on beer, which is being raised $1.25 a liter on Aug. 5 for all beer sold in Alberta. That sucks most convincingly. Previously, Alberta brewers paid less on the markup, with a sliding scale starting as low as 10 cents per liter. The government’s hoping this evens out the playing field. Guess we’ll see.