Mission Springs’ brewmaster Kevin Winter holds up a growler

Mission Springs’ brewmaster Kevin Winter holds up a growler

New tax proposed by government on growlers

Advocacy group starts online petition to protest refill tax

The provincial government’s intention to implement a new 30 per cent tax on a brewpub product has angered a Mission company.

The Mission Springs has been selling refills of beer in 1.8-litre glass jugs called growlers for years. The decades-old practice has recently seen a resurgence in popular culture, especially with the growing interest in craft beer.

At $11 a refill at the Springs, the local business derives income from the service, and its customers get the freshest beer. The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) takes a lower mark-up on draught than on packaged beer sales, a difference of 28 cents per litre.

But on April 1, the LDB will begin drawing those savings back into government coffers, arguing patrons are consuming beer off-site so the draught rate should apply.

“This 30 per cent tax will hurt our sales,” said Springs’ brewmaster Kevin Winter.

With recent provincial changes that will benefit smaller breweries — including allowing small and medium operations that also own an off-site restaurant or pub the freedom to serve their products in their establishments, which they were previously not allowed to do — Winter said this latest tax will negatively affect companies.

“We see this as completely counter-intuitive,” he said.

In response to the planned mark-up, The Campaign for Real Ale Society (CAMRA) of British Columbia is circulating an online petition, hoping to lobby Minister Rich Coleman to reconsider the policy revision.

“This tax hike will harm the growth of this industry and the culture of B.C.,” it states.

– with files from Daniel Palmer