Big Rock Brewery announces layoffs, blames Alberta's beer taxes

Big Rock Brewery says it’s laying off staff, on top of other “cost-cutting measures,” due to taxes on Alberta beer.

“This process can be painful, and we recognize that personnel reductions are difficult for our employees, their families and the community,” CEO Wayne Arsenault said in a release Wednesday afternoon.

“We will continue to work with the new Government of Alberta to establish a positive regulatory environment for small brewers in the province that is predictable, stable and supports growth.”

The Calgary-based brewery pointed to the province’s markup program that charges $1.25 per litre of beer, or a reduced rate between 10 and 60 cents for manufacturers that produce less than 50,000 hectolitres per year. 

Big Rock sold more than 200,000 hectolitres of beer in 2018, for a net revenue of $48.7 million.

The company said it expects its net Alberta provincial liquor taxes to increase from $10.7 million last year to more than $21 million this year.

A Big Rock spokesperson would not confirm the exact number of the layoffs and said no further comment would be provided. 

In the company’s 2018 financial statement, it said it was working with the previous Alberta government on a new markup structure and had requested financial support for its growth in 2019.

CBC News has reached out to Alberta’s finance and trade ministers’ offices for comment.

The company, which was founded in 1985, operates three breweries in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto, and sells beer and cider in five provinces and two territories. 

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