The Irish Brewers Association (IBA) has welcomed the passage of the Breweries and Distilleries Bill in the Seanad, which will allow craft brewers and distillers to sell their products on site to visitors, without the need to acquire a full licence.  This follows the successful passage of the bill in the Dáil last week.  The IBA says that new Bill will support tourism and small beer businesses in Ireland, which are vital to rural economies.

Jonathan McDade, Head of the IBA said: “It’s refreshing to see this common-sense legislation passed by the Oireachtas because it will enable Ireland’s craft brewers to get a solid foothold into Ireland’s tourism trade.  Many people visit Ireland to experience the heritage associated with some of Ireland’s most iconic drinks brands and now they will be able to sample some of the world’s best craft beers too.  Irish beer is a cultural asset and this bill will play a significant part in helping microbreweries showcase its products to curious visitors.

There are now around 100 micro-breweries in Ireland, many of which are in rural areas right across the country and are important for the local community in terms of providing employment and driving tourism.  The IBA welcomes the passage of this Bill, which clearly recognises the growing contribution of craft breweries to the Irish economy and allows these small businesses to create an additional revenue stream.”

However, the IBA warned that the positive impact of the Bill could be undercut by the unintended negative consequences of the labelling provisions in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.

Jonathan McDade continued: “While on the one hand the Government is supporting craft breweries, on the other hand it is also about to introduce an extremely harmful piece of legislation in the form of the Alcohol Bill.

“The requirement of all brewers to include cancer warning labels to its pre-packaged beer products will cause huge reputational damage to the sector as no other country has mandatory cancer warnings on alcohol products.

“The cancer warning labels will hurt small producers.  Research from DKM economic consultants shows that introducing ‘Irish-only’ cancer health warning labels will impose significant costs on Irish producers and distributors, because they will be required to develop labels specifically for the Irish market and a second set of labels for elsewhere.  It is anticipated that it will cost approximately €50,000 to redesign an entire suite of labelling for a single product line and additional stock control costs will also arise.”