Minimum price brewers can charge in Ontario drops as buck-a-beer comes into effect

Buck-a-beer has come into effect in Ontario, bringing the minimum price of a bottle or can of beer to $1 from $1.25.

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

The policy was a highly publicized campaign promise for newly minted Premier Doug Ford, but it was decried by a number of the province’s craft brewers on social media.

Some have said they could not afford to participate without sacrificing the quality of their product.

Ford has said participating businesses will be offered prime spots in LCBO stores or advertising in the store magazine’s inserts, among other possible rewards.

There are currently two brands taking part in the arrangement. Barley Days brewery’s Loon Lager is available in limited quantities at 11 LCBO locations: nine in Toronto and one each in Bowmanville and Sudbury, the LCBO said in a news release.

Ford announced the buck-a-beer policy earlier this month at Barley Days’ headquarters in Prince Edward County. According to the LCBO’s website, the brewer has supplied about 3,400 cans of Loon Lager so far.

Cool Beer Brewing Company, based in Etobicoke, is offering four-packs of its Cool Lager under the auspice of the buck-a-beer deal. It is available at LCBO locations throughout southern Ontario.

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

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