Alcohol Licensing Laws

Ireland's licensing laws are archaic and a throwback to British rule. There is a finite number of licences. In order to get a licence for a new pub, one must extinguish an existing licence. As a result of this, pub licences are notoriously expensive to purchase and this is artificially so. It makes new entry into the market very difficult and has resulted in what can only be described as a cartel scenario.

The law as stands puts breweries and cider producers at a disadvantage. Without a separate licence they can't have a tap room to sell their beer/cider either for on-premise consumption or to take away. When someone visits their brewery or orchard and takes a tour, they have to be directed to another location to make a purchase. This might be many kilometres away or even in another county entirely.

The brewing or manufacturer's licence is also an example of an old British law that hasn't been updated. It allows a brewer to be a wholesaler and gives them the ability to sell beer or cider in any quantity not less than four-and-a-half gallons, or not less than two dozen reputed quart bottles. In modern terms, that equates to about 20 litres. Since very few visitors will likely to be purchasing that much beer, brewers can't make use of that particular ability.

Beoir would like to see the licensing laws updated to give brewers the ability top sell their beer to the public in any quantity for consumption on or off premise and look forward to working with brewery organisations to achieve this.

The first gauntlet has been thrown in the form of this article in the Independent.


Beer Labelling Regulations

Currently, alcohol labels in the European Union must include the following information:
- The name under which the product is sold
- The net quantity of pre-packaged beverage in metric units
- Indication of the acquired alcoholic strength
- Date of minimum durability ("best before")
- Instructions of use, where appropriate
- Any special conditions for keeping or use
- The name or business name and address of the manufacturer, packager, or importer established in the EU (can be any of these)

EU Regulation 1169/2011 addresses labelling issues by requiring the ingredients to be listedUnfortunately, it has exempted alcoholic beverages (containing more than 1.2% ABV) from the obligation to provide information to consumers - they do not have to list their ingredients or provide nutritional information. 
Beoir and the EBCU wish to see the removal of this exemption so beer consumers can see all ingredients that go in to their beer. We would also like to see precisely where the beer was brewed and by what brewery. Simply saying "Brewed in the EU" is unacceptable from a consumer information point of view.
Many breweries already volunteer the information we want to see, and for this we thank them. We would like to see it made mandatory on a European level though.