Alberta is challenging a ruling that found its incentive program on beer sales violates interprovincial free-trade obligations.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says the government is appealing last month's decision by a national internal trade panel.

Ceci says the province will argue that its small brewers development program meets required trade obligations.

He says in a statement that Alberta runs the most open liquor market in Canada and 18 new breweries have opened since incentives began a year ago.

The trade panel, in a 2-1 decision, ruled that rebates given only to Alberta brewers discriminate against out-of-province beers sold in the province.

The action was filed by Calgary-based Artisan Ales, which imports beer and says the government's program has had a devastating effect on sales.