Alan Kelly's crafty plan to boost beer tourism in Ireland

The Labour TD wants a major regulatory barrier for breweries to be removed...

Alan Kelly's crafty plan to boost beer tourism in Ireland

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Labour spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Alan Kelly is launching a bill today that he believes will boost craft tourism business for breweries, distilleries and cidermakers across Ireland.

The Tipperary TD's Intoxicating Liquor Bill would remove a major regulatory barrier which currently prevents craft companies from selling their drinks on their own premises without a licence. 

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Kelly said that while there is a "huge" craft brewing industry here that has gone from "strength to strength" in recent years, "there is a huge anomaly out there in relation to it."

He explained:

"After visiting the breweries, you can't actually purchase any of their stock, because they don't have a licence. This has been pointed out by Fáilte Ireland and by others in the food industry as a real negative, because Fáilte Ireland – the national tourism board – would like to be able to market these craft breweries to create a tourism product.

"Furthermore, the craft brewers feel that by being able to sell just their own produce on site, they will be able to create greater awareness internationally and domestically, and create greater brands. And thus, the industry will grow."

When asked whether Ireland really needs another place where people can drink, Kelly countered that "it's really not about that, to be fair."

"You can basically give a taste of the product but also you'll be able to sell some of the produce to any visitor that comes to the site.

"For instance, I'm sure you've been to Italy and France. You visit a vineyard, and after you visit the vineyard, you can buy some wine on the site? Well, if you go and visit a craft brewery in Ireland, you can't actually buy the product afterward.

"It's an anomaly, it's crazy. It's preventing an industry from growing. It really is something that is to create a tourism product, create a tourism trail, and allow for greater exposure to the brands of the craft brewers that are in Ireland at the moment."

The Irish craft beer industry has enjoyed an elevenfold increase in annual turnover in the past five years. Microbreweries now employ 439 full-time workers across the country, with an estimated 392 indirectly employed in the industry. They have a projected turnover of €59 million for 2016.