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Ford's 'Buck a Beer' not a viable model for most, says Stittsville brewer

Photo: Kathy and John vanDyk, owners of Covered Bridge Brewing. Photo by Barry Gray.

The owner of Stittsville’s Covered Bridge Brewery said he won’t be taking advantage of the province’s lower floor price for beer — and doubts many others will either.

“Absolutely not,” John vanDyk said with a chuckle when reached by phone on Wednesday.

VanDyk said Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s “Buck a Beer” plan, which lowers the floor price of a bottle or can of beer from $1.25 to $1 is not viable for many small brewers and is unlikely to make much headway.

“For me (an empty) can is probably 34 cents,” said vanDyk. “That means I got to make the beer for less than 70 cents a can and that’s just not realistic.”

“I don’t think you’re going to see any or most craft breweries jumping on board.”

He said other small breweries would similarly be unable to make a beer for just a dollar, as the cost of materials are too high. However, he said larger companies like Molson’s may be able to do it, because they could take advantage of economies of scale when buying materials.

VanDyk’s brewery opened about five years ago, he said, and has not once increased the price of their beers — even as the cost of materials and labour went up. “It’d be tough to lower our prices,” he said.

The PC government said lowering the floor price of beer would increase competition, but would not affect government revenues because beer is taxed by volume and not cost. The lower floor price does not include taxes, which vanDyk said should have been the government’s target if they really wanted cheaper beer.

The government will offer incentives to brewers who take advantage of the lower price, by providing special in-store LCBO placements and flyer promotions. The government said this does not cost taxpayers any money, but the opposition NDP said it effectively does because free advertising has a monetary value.

(Originally published on our sister site, StittsvilleCentral.ca)