On a recent visit to Ireland, our expectations for craft beer were kept in check. A visit ten years ago yielded no craft and now, the number of craft breweries on the island has blossomed to over 60 (there is conflicting data that suggest between 64 to 90 breweries). However, these breweries aren’t able to provide visitors the opportunity to taste or purchase their product on site.
That is about to change. In July, the government approved an amendment to the Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Bill 2016. This bill will allow visitors who have completed a tour of the facility the option to purchase alcohol on premises between the hours of 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Breweries/Distilleries will have to apply for this license, which is renewable annually.
While we felt that Ireland’s craft scene was 10+ years behind many American cities, this is a step in the right direction. Beer tourism is flourishing and whereas in most cities, we would visit a brewery, this wasn’t a viable option in Ireland. Choices in Ireland are limited to pubs and brewery tied houses. One doesn’t get the same vibe and experience as you might by visiting the brewery and speaking with those who brew the beer.
Ireland’s breweries are quite spread out and if you haven’t rented a car to experience the narrow one lane for two vehicle roads with car-eating bushes lining the sides, it will be difficult to visit the breweries. Add to that the requirement to participate in a tour and the possibility of having to pay for said tour, this may also limit tourism.
This initial step is definitely positive and will help the breweries to increase sales and brand recognition. Perhaps the laws will be relaxed in the future to allow lounge licenses where one can visit without a tour and stay past 6:00 pm. I look forward to visiting in another ten years to see how their craft scene has progressed.
Post by: Lynn McIlwee