Calgarian launches brewery boycott twitter campaign

Minhas Micro Brewery only started doing public tours of its northeast Calgary brewery a few weeks ago, but it's already getting some negative reviews on social media.

Calgary's Evan Polowick launched the twitter hashtag campaign #boycottminhas.

He created it after reading an article published months ago in the Huffington Post that says Minhas brews in the United States, but enjoys a tax break under Alberta's small brewer progam.

Co-owner Ravinder Minhas says he does brew beer in Wisconsin, but it's made with malt from the Canadian Prairies and sold here.

Polowick feels it is unfair.

"Don't drink it unless he's going to act by the rules, unless he's going to abide by the rules," he said. "He's the 14th largest brewery in the U.S. — the U.S. not Canada — and this is a tax subsidy he's getting from Alberta. So I want eyes to open up in the Alberta government."

Minhas said it's not a subsidy, but a tax break for an Alberta brewery to help them compete against powerhouses like Coors and Labatt — which own a large share of the international beer market.

When he started the Calgary-based company with his sister Manjit Minhas in 2002, Ravinder said they couldn't afford to build a brewery in Alberta, and couldn't find anyone in the province to make beer for them.

"Our goal is to always brew in Alberta," he said. "But when Manjit and I started, we started at the age of 18 and 19 years old, so we couldn't buy a brewery — I mean it was just unrealistic."

The duo contracted a U.S. brewery in Wisconsin to do it and eventually bought that brewery in 2006.

Minhas still produces beer there, but also began brewing at its northeast Calgary location in June — which offers tours that includes beer-themed food and tables made from kegs.

The facility hopes to produce 40,000 hectolitres this year, which keeps the company under the 400,000 hectolitre cap of the small brewer tax program.

Michelle Hynes-Dawson of the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission says Minhas isn't breaking any rules. She said any small brewery that wants to sell its product in Alberta can apply, even if the company is owned and operated out of a different country.

She said the goal of the program is to bring in a large variety of beer at a lower cost for Albertans to enjoy.

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