Sask. slashes taxes for craft and regional beer brewers

It will soon be easier for brewers in Saskatchewan to sell more beer.

SLGA minister said Alberta tax increase forced change

Jeremy Harrison, minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, explained that a big part of the change was due to Alberta’s increase in taxes on out-of-province brewers. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

It will soon be easier for brewers in Saskatchewan to sell more beer.

On Thursday, the provincial government announced that the markup structure for beer manufacturers will change on Nov. 1.

There are markups for all beer products sold in the province. Currently, small manufacturers have to pay a lot as their production volumes grow.

The change will see the markups decrease.

A release from the Great Western Brewing Company explained that the change for them — as they produce between 20,001 and 200,000 hectolitres — will result in the markup decreasing to $0.75 per litre from $1.42 per litre. One hectolitre is equal to 100 litres.

Jeremy Harrison, minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, explained that a big part of the change was due to Alberta's increase in taxes on out-of-province brewers, which he called, "nothing less than a declaration of war on Saskatchewan-produced beer".

"What you're seeing today, it's a free-market response that's going to allow our craft and regional brewers to continue to grow, to continue to build."

Harrison said he hopes cutting the tax in half for craft and regional brewers will result in lower prices for consumers, more choice and more opportunity.

Great Western and Saskatoon's 9 Mile Legacy both said the change puts Saskatchewan more in line with other provinces.

The province highlighted other changes that will help craft breweries, including the ability to deliver their products directly to Saskatchewan retailers, to sell other Saskatchewan-made beer, wine and spirits, and being allowed to set up a second retail location away from their production site.