The taps won’t exactly run dry, but the Alberta Gaming and Licensing Corporation’s decision to hike its markup for out-of-province microbreweries is less than ideal for View Royal-based 4 Mile Brewing Co.
While Vancouver Island and the rest of B.C. are clearly 4 Mile’s main markets for distribution, the microbrewery does ship its beers to Alberta and Manitoba as well.
“It’s kind of a secondary market for us,” said Graham Haymes, one of the owners of the family-run business, adding that 4 Mile entered the Alberta market this spring.
Two of its beers are sold in that province and they plan to distribute a seasonal fall brew there as well.
As of Aug. 5, those products will be sold with a $1.25/L markup in Alberta, up from just 10 cents per litre before the province’s monopoly liquor wholesaler decided to hike the rates on all microbreweries producing under 20 million litres per year.
A subsidy system for Alberta craft breweries will give them an advantage over their B.C. competition.
“While our membership is based in B.C., we have been encouraged by our neighbours in Alberta in their growing affinity for craft beer,” Ken Beattie, executive director of the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild, wrote in a statement last month.
“It is disheartening to see that the Alberta government does not recognize that such extreme increases in markup to craft brewers outside Alberta will damage what could be a growing industry in the province and reduce affordability and selection for its own craft beer lovers.”
The office for Joe Ceci, Alberta’s Minister of Finance, was not immediately available for comment.
Four Mile had been in business for many years before deciding to enter the craft brewing game three years ago, just as the wave of microbrewing momentum was beginning to crest.
Haymes says their venture into the market is going well so far. “It’s a pretty competitive market right now,” he said. “We’ve focused on building up a core business locally in View Royal with the brew pub and then expanding into Victoria … and then reaching out as we’ve added capacity and the equipment to brew.”
The company distributes five beers in the Victoria area and three in Vancouver, with more options coming out of their main location on the West Shore.
They’ve also recently expanded and doubled the size of their liquor store on Goldstream Avenue in Colwood, giving them 5,000 square feet to work with.
– with files from Tom Fletcher/Black Press