The team at CRAFT Beer Market Kelowna offer more than 100 drinks on tap. (Black Press Media files)

Ontario government to bring back buck a beer by Labour Day: source

Province had buck-a-bottle beer but the Liberal government quietly hiked the minimum price in 2008

Ontario will see the return of buck a beer by Labour Day weekend, The Canadian Press has learned, though some in the industry predict few brewers will embrace the new, lower minimum price.

A source with knowledge of the plan says the Progressive Conservative government is expected to announce Tuesday that it will lower the minimum price of a bottle or can of beer to $1 from $1.25 by the September holiday weekend.

Brewers would not be required to charge less, however, and the lower minimum price would not apply to draft beer, nor would it include the bottle deposit.

The government is hoping to get brewers on board by launching what it calls a “buck-a-beer challenge” with incentives for those who cut prices to $1, the source said.

The move was one of Premier Doug Ford’s promises during the spring election campaign, and Ford suggested in a video released Friday that he would be making good on it soon. He has also vowed to broaden the sale of beer and wine to corner and box stores.

The Tories have said bringing back buck a beer would allow more competition in the beer market without affecting the province’s revenues from beer and wine taxes, which brought in roughly $589 million in 2016-2017, according to government documents.

Ontario previously had buck-a-bottle beer but the Liberal government quietly hiked the minimum price in 2008, citing its “social responsibility” mandate.

In its heyday, buck a beer was a successful marketing campaign and seized a significant share of the market, said Scott Simmons, president of Ontario Craft Brewers, who was an executive at The Beer Store at the time.

READ MORE: Molson enters into joint venture to develop cannabis-infused beverages

Several brewers adopted it, including Lakeport, which “really took it to town,” said Simmons, who spent a year at the company.

But the costs of making beer have gone up, as have the provincial and federal taxes, making it less feasible for brewers to sell their product at the $1 minimum price now, he said.

“I don’t see many, if any, heading to that price simply from a profitability point of view,” he said.

“I don’t think it can be done in 2018 but some brewers may think it can be done and I’d be interested to see what’s actually in the product that they’re selling at that price,” he said. “It can’t be very good, let me put it that way.”

Few brewers sell at the current minimum price unless they’re having a sale, Simmons said, noting that an additional $6 drop for a case of 24 would likely wipe out any profits.

Still, the move will appeal to value-conscious consumers, though it probably won’t affect the craft beer market, which attracts a demographic that is willing to pay more, he said.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Pregnant Cariboo firefighter tries to save own house from blaze

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

Mining company prospecting for gold near Bella Coola

Gold discovered in alpine areas where glaciers are receding

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Truck hauling compressed gas for ‘virtual pipeline’ crashes on B.C. highway

Driver charged and highway closed for nine hours - containers did not rupture

Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson ‘feeling good’ after knee injury

Pettersson said he wasn’t feeling any pain during Wednesday’s skate

Most Read