Alberta Says No To Craft Beer

Alberta Says No To BC Craft Beer With New Tax Regulation

Alberta Says No To Craft Beer


Alberta Says No To Craft Beer – BC Craft Brewers May Be Forced Out

In a counter-intuitive move by the Alberta Provincial Government the province has placed a No Craft Beer sign at every border of the province. That said, any Alberta based craft breweries are not necessarily all that much better off. As of August 5, 2016 craft beer sold in Alberta will go up by as much as $1.15 per litre or 2.45 wholesale per 6-pack. That may translate as up to $3.50 added consumer cost at retail after markup.

Last year, the Alberta Government revised their Provincial markup schedule on beer to the advantage of small brewers. Beer was taxed at a graduated rate for Western Canadian breweries depending on the quantity of beer that the brewery produced. For Breweries producing less than 10,256HL per year the tax rate was $0.10 per litre. This scaled up to a maximum of $1.25 for breweries producing more than 400,000HL. In this scale, BC’s larger craft breweries (Phillips, Central City etc.) would fall in the $0.20-$0.30 range.

A graduated tax rate is common for craft beer in Canada. British Columbia uses a similar system to encourage small business. The lower tax rate helps to offset the economies of scale that macro breweries have and encourages price competition among breweries of all sizes. With the elimination of a graduated scale all western Canadian craft breweries will see a significant rise in their prices. Alberta based breweries will also be affected but there will be some grants available for in-province brewers. Details on these grants are not yet available.

As of August 5th, Alberta residents are going to see a significant rise in the price of craft beer. Macro beer will not be affected as they are already paying the $1.25 per litre. This will result in a large gap in prices. A 6-pack of craft beer will likely be in excess of $15.00 at retail after August 5th.

So why should BC residents care about pricing in Alberta. Well, Alberta loves BC craft beer and as much as our local breweries have found success locally, Alberta has become a major source of revenue and growth for our favourite breweries. There are an estimated 35 BC craft breweries that are currently selling in Alberta. This tax change will likely cause a significant number of BC breweries to back out of the Alberta market completely as they can no longer afford to operate in the market. This change will equate to higher consumer prices, lower consumer demand and slimmer margins for breweries.

When speaking to Business in Vancouver, BC Craft Brewers Guild Executive Director Ken Beattie commented, “The consumer in Alberta should be outraged if you’re a craft beer consumer because your price just went up almost $2 dollars a six pack for your craft beer … and your keg price went from $205 to $262. So the consumer is going to be hurt, the hospitality sector is going to be hurt, because they’re going to have to raise their prices and everybody is going to have to be drinking foreign owned domestic lagers.”


BC Breweries that export to Alberta include:

Arrowhead Brewing
Bad Tattoo Brewing
Barkerville Brewing
Bomber Brewing
Bridge Brewing
Canuck Empire Brewing
Category 12 Brewing
Central City Brewers
Dageraad Brewing
Dead Frog Brewery
Deep Cove Brewers
Driftwood Brewery
Fernie Brewing
Tree Brewing
Fuggles & Warlock
Howe Sound Brewing
Lighthouse Brewing
Moody Ales
Mt. Begbie Brewing
Nelson Brewing
Old Abbey Ales
Old Yale Brewing
Parallel 49 Brewing
Persephone Brewing
Phillips Brewing
Postmark Brewing
Red Collar Brewing
Russell Brewery
Steel & Oak Brewing
Cannery Brewing
Tin Whistle Brewing
Three Ranges Brewing
Tofino Brewing
Townsite Brewing
4 Mile Brewing

More Information
AGLC New Markup Announcement Q&A
– AGLC Graduated Beer Markup Model
AGLC fixed Beer Markup Model
Business in Vancouver Article

About Author

Dustan Sept

Dustan Sept is the founder of Beer Me BC. His passion for craft beer drove the creation of in 2012. To learn more about the editorial team visit


  1. Craft Beer Journal
    Craft Beer Journal 19 July, 2016, 12:23

    I think you missed the why in all of this. Steam Whistle launched a lawsuit against the Alberta Government regarding the tax breaks for the NWP. The only out for the government is to level all of the taxes and give the AB small brewers a break, via grants. Some BC craft beer was coming in to AB at $150/50L keg (Bomber & P49 for example) this means they will be priced at around $210/50L keg now, which actually makes them the same price as lower priced AB beer. I do agree it’s a big deal and will have an impact on BC breweries, but it’s really because of Steam Whistles lawsuit. Without that one driving force, the tax structure would have stayed just as it was.

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  2. Kurt
    Kurt 19 July, 2016, 12:50

    Perhaps you should look at the list of Alberta breweries that export to BC and ask why that list is almost non existent. Alberta is just playing the same game every other province is. Protect local breweries. Steam Whistle just decided that BC and SK shouldn’t be local. Without that legal pressure, none of this would have happened.

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  3. dustansept
    dustansept Author 19 July, 2016, 21:15

    There are many theories as to why this happened but that is not my point. Steam Whistle should be treated the same as BC craft brewers. The NWP did alienate breweries outside of the partnership. The issue is with supporting small business and the growth of craft beer in Alberta while giving Albertans options greater than the very limited number of breweries locally. There is no reason with the previous tax laws that Alberta beer should have been more expensive than that imported by other craft breweries, that is just margin. This change encourages big business and gives a strong strategic advantage to macro producers.

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  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous 24 July, 2016, 14:55

    Sure glad I live in BC. More beer for us.

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