Posted August 3, 2017 2:59 PM
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Brewer sues beer giants in antitrust action

MADISON, Wis. — A Canadian company that owns a brewery in southern Wisconsin has filed a federal lawsuit alleging antitrust violations by two of the world’s largest brewing companies.

Mountain Crest says in the suit filed earlier this week that AB InBev of Belgium and Molson Coors Brewing Co. in Denver had an arrangement with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario from 2000 to 2015 that restricted the sale of other U.S. beer in the Canadian province.

The suit says the companies violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by controlling the distribution and retail options in Ontario.

“Plaintiff’s injury is precisely the sort that the antitrust laws were intended to forestall; namely, two dominant businesses using their market power to stifle competition,” the complaint says.

The company said the agreement limited Mountain Crest’s growth and sales. The company seeks lost revenue and $200,000 in punitive damages.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company owns Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe, Wis., the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The brewery is the former Joseph Huber Brewing Co.

The brewery produces Mountain Crest Classic Lager, Clear Creek Ice and Boxer. It exports much of its product to Canada.

ABI has more than 40 percent shares of the U.S. and Canadian beer markets. Its three global brands are Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois.

ABI spokeswoman Gemma Hart wrote in an e-mail that the company “was aware that the lawsuit has been filed and intend to vigorously defend against it.”

Molson Coors has nearly 30 percent of the U.S. beer market and almost 35 percent of the Canadian beer market. Its main brands are Carling, Coors, Miller and Molson Canadian.

Molson Coors spokesman Colin Wheeler declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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