A craft beer brewer in Regina is accusing another producer of selling its beer as their own.
Rebellion Brewing first posted the allegations on social media, which claimed the recently-opened Minhas Sask Distillery, Winery and Brewery acquired Rebellion beer without its knowledge and sold it as its own, without permission.
Its president, Mark Heise said that according to an anonymous tip, Minhas purchased kegs from a pub, an act he called bootlegging.
Heise said Minhas then served the beer in its taproom, as an unbranded India pale ale. He called that a misrepresentation of their product.
“If you walk into any place that has the sign, ‘brewery,’ and they’re claiming they just had a generic tap handle that said, ‘IPA,’ what would their assumption be as to whose beer that is? It’s pretty obvious,” Heise said.
Moni Minhas, president and CEO of Minhas, said that he had in fact purchased the kegs from a pub, claiming he was unaware that might have been against the rules.
“It was just convenient. It happened that I was flying out and I said, I’ll send the truck over. I spent multi-million dollars in this facility and I employ 40 people right now. And I’m running around with so many things on my mind and my staff’s mind,” Minhas said. “We’ve been working 24-7 and there’s just too many things to do.”
As for the tap handle, Minhas said their graphic designers had not yet finished the label.
“We had an IPA label,” he said. “I put IPA on it. We’re not lying.”
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) confirmed it has received complaints against Minhas and is looking into it. Though the SLGA could not go into detail about the complaints, it confirmed Minhas has a manufacturers license.
“The permit allows the business to manufacture wine and spirits and refreshments. Craft alcohol producers also have the ability to retail craft alcohol products produced by other Saskatchewan craft alcohol producers and many of them do so,” said SLGA spokesperson David Morris.
The statement from SLGA does not explain how manufacturer permit holders must legally acquire other craft beer that it intends to sell.
Heise had sent a letter to clients, which said a tavern licensee resold some of Rebellion’s kegs to another local producer. It accused that producer of selling growler refills of Rebellion beer under its own brand name.
Moni Minhas, president and CEO of Minhas Sask, addressed the allegations in Facebook post on Saturday evening that has since been deleted.
“Rebellion Brewery claims they are upset with me because I sold a keg of theirs without taphandle saying it was their beer. I really do not think so. It was perfectly legal and ethical,” he wrote in the post.
Before Minhas spoke out on social media, the Saskatchewan Craft Brewers Association (SCBA) issued a statement Saturday morning, saying the situation is a misrepresentation of craft beer in the province.
“We are very concerned and look forward to the outcome of the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority investigation. Hopefully it can be concluded quickly and the issues resolved to the satisfaction of our membership,” said SCBA President, Kari Stenson.