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

WATCH: Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Prince Rupert’s students are baking it all the way to the bank

Charles Hays band students serve up goodies to fund summer trip

Two temporary voyages between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan added to AMHS schedule

October and November will see service to Alaska during the last week of each month

Police still looking for more info on missing mushroom picker in Nass Valley

65-year-old Greg Agnew was reported missing on Sept. 30

Conrad is giving thanks

Conrad students celebrate the holiday with a special meal

VIDEO: U.S. officials refute British couple’s ‘accidental’ border-crossing claim

Authorities say couple was arrested after illegal entry from B.C., with $16,000 and marijuana

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

Terrace artist turns historic downtown tree into work of art

Terrace artist carves a logger into wooden stump

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

ICBC willing to loosen grip on driver claim data, David Eby says

Private insurers say claims record monopoly keeps them out

B.C. principal suspended for failing to help student who reported inappropriate touching

Principal didn’t remove student from the teacher’s class nor call the parents within a reasonable time

Most Read