Brick Brewing has reported a steep fall in first quarter earnings.

The Canadian brewer said yesterday (13 June) that income for the three months to 30 April came in 75% down on the corresponding period a year earlier at C$126,000 (US$113,329) against C$752,000 in Q1 2005. Brick blamed the fall on increased costs and overheads at its new packaging facility in Ontario.

Volumes for the company were up by 23%, with total revenue increasing to C$16.1m from C$13.4m.

Speaking yesterday, Brick's president and CEO, Doug Berchtold, suggested problems at rival brewer Sleeman would help sales of its new premium beer brand, J.R. Brickman Founder's Series, in Ontario, Canada.

"We didn't plan this launch to coincide with the changes under way at Sleeman, but you couldn't really launch a new craft brand in Ontario at a more ideal time," he said.

Sleeman is in the process of exploring strategic options, which may include a sale.