Beer Wars? Bring it on

(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

Christina Blizzard, Queen's Park Columnist

, Last Updated: 7:34 AM ET

TORONTO -- Beer Wars are brewing and could come to a head this summer.

Brick Brewing of Waterloo and Restaurants Canada have cut a deal that will see the brewery provide restaurants with beer at 30% below the cost of the two brewing giants, Labatt and MolsonCoors.

Instead of paying an inflated price for beer the brewers charge licensed bars and restaurants, they'll now pay the same as the public at the Beer Store or the LCBO for Brick's Waterloo craft beers, rather than the much higher price that other large brewers charge restaurants and bars for their premium brands.

Sadly, though, if you're hoping to wallow in the cheaper brewskis for the upcoming long weekend, you're out of luck.

The new beer prices won't be in place for Tuesday's Canada Day celebrations, but James Rilett, Restaurants Canada's Ontario vice-president, said suds lovers should see a break in the prices within two weeks.

The higher price has rankled restaurants for years and Rilett says they were delighted when Brick came to them with a price break.

"It's up to them, but restaurants will get their beer cheaper and hopefully they'll pass it along to customers," Rilett said in a phone interview.

"We are very disappointed that this practice continued of charging restaurants a higher price for beer and we've never been able to get a reason why they do," he said.

It doesn't matter whether the beer is delivered or if they pick it up from the Beer Store, the price for restaurants is always higher.

Brick approached Rilett with the plan -- and they jumped on it.

The new pricing will not apply to Brick's premium brands such as Laker.

In a press release, Rilett called this province's liquor control system, "outdated" and said it's created a "perverse marketplace where restaurant wholesale prices can be up to 50% higher than retail."

Rilett says the practice costs the industry $75 million annually in this province.

"We have been asking the government to put an end to price gouging by the large brewers in Ontario. It's good to see a responsible brewer stepping up in the absence of government action," says Rilett.


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