A government program that is designed to help small Alberta breweries is getting set to expand this year.
During a speech at the first annual Alberta Craft Brewing Convention in Red Deer on Wednesday, Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci announced the amount of grant money available through the Alberta Small Breweries Development Program (ASBDP), which was introduced by the Alberta Government last year, will grow from $16 million in 2016-17 to $25 million this year.
“The industry was poised to develop and it needed a little bit of an extra hand to make sure it got developed. These are all local products in Alberta that go from the field or grain to the glass. It really helps every part of the value chain of the products and the finished product is a great world-class product that there needs to be more of,” said Ceci.
The program makes grant money available to Alberta brewers who sell no more that 300,000 hectolitres per year to help them increase production capacity, develop new markets.
In addition to increasing the amount of money available under the program, Ceci also announced the government will be rolling out a program which includes Alberta craft distilleries, meaderies and wineries.
Ceci said the program has created “dozens and dozens,” of jobs since its introduction last July.
“They’re growing. I talked to one gentleman at an Edmonton-based brewery. He said he’s hired two more people because of the growth of his industry and two is, I think he said 10 per cent of his workforce. And that’s just one person,” Ceci said, noting there are now around 53 small and craft breweries in the province.
“When distillers, meaderies and wineries get rolled in and start growing as well there will be a lot more jobs.”
The Alberta Small Brewers Development Program is funded by a $1.25 per litre charge on all breweries selling beer in the province.
While many Alberta craft brewers would be able to recover the majority of that cost through the grant program, brewers from outside of the province cannot.