Mayo breweries back proposed new beer tourism legislation

Posted in Connect on November 29, 2016.

west MayoMayo breweries have welcomed proposed new legislation that could allow breweries and distilleries to sell their products on their premises.

Currently, breweries and distilleries cannot offer visitors and tourists the opportunity to taste
their products on site. However, a proposed Bill by Labour TD Alan Kelly would lift that restriction although there would be some time restrictions and breweries would only be allowed to sell their own products. The legislation will include a clause preventing license holders from applying from the exemptions pubs and clubs can avail of.

There are four breweries operating in Mayo in Islandeady, Westport, Crossmolina and Achill plus two whiskey distilleries. Some of Mayo’s beer brewers have welcomed the proposed Bill.

“It sounds like a major step forward to me,” said Caroline Price, who runs the West Mayo Brewery in Islandeady, alongside her husband Iain. “We would definitely wWelcome it. It would allow breweries like  ourselves to become tourist destinations,” she added. Caroline said she recently visited a brewery in Germany where local people came to purchase their beer and the brewery is central to community life.

Cillian O Morain and Bart Adons run the Mescan brewery, located at the foot of Croagh Patrick. Cillian said if successful the Bill would give a boost to microbreweries all over the country.
“I find it hard to imagine that it will get passed but if it is successful it would be great. Us and other breweries have people visiting that would like to buy our beer, but you have to tell these people no or send them away,” said Cillian. He said the legislation would make it more attractive for breweries to host tours for visitors.

There are up to 90 microbreweries operating in Ireland and the sector has been a tourist attraction. Mr Kelly said the legislation is about ensuring the visitor has an experience similar to those who visit the Guinness Storehouse or the Jameson Distillery.

“Many of these distilleries, breweries and microbreweries are also major tourist attractions that welcome visitors and offer guided tours, and owners say there is a substantial demand for craft beer tasting on site. However, the ability to fully capitalise on this potential for ‘craft-beer tourism’ is being hampered by current licensing regulations, which require producers to have a pub license or an off-licence to sell their produce, made on site, to tourists and visitors.”

Story: The Western People

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