Alberta Government Wins Appeal Against $2 Million Payment to Great Western & Steam Whistle, But Can’t Reinstate Brewery Rebate Program

CALGARY, AB – CBC News reports that the Government of Alberta has logged both a win and a loss in the latest – and likely final – ruling in a four-year legal battle over beer markup fees in the province.

In a judgement released on Monday, the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that the government does not need to pay restitution of approximately $2 million to Great Western Brewing and Steam Whistle Brewing, as it was ordered to do in 2018. The previous ruling was in response to cases filed by those breweries in 2016 over a policy implemented in 2015 that saw higher markups applied to beer imported from most regions outside of Alberta.

The government changed this in 2016 to a standardized markup for all beer sold in the province regardless of the size and location of the brewery, but followed that up with the Alberta Small Brewers Development Program which awarded grants to breweries based in Alberta. Judgments in 2017 and 2018 ruled this rebate program to be an unconstitutional interprovincial trade barrier, and that opinion was upheld in the new judgement, which ordered that it not be reinstated.

Following the 2018 ruling, the government launched an appeal that led to this week’s judgement, and also implemented yet another markup structure that scales the markup based on the size of the brewery but regardless of location. This structure was modified earlier this year to allow some larger breweries such as Big Rock Brewing to benefit from smaller markups.

For more details on the latest ruling, see the full CBC News article.

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