CRAFT breweries across Northern Ireland have come together to call for the right to sell their products directly to customers.
The Northern Ireland Brewery & Independent Pub Association (NIBIPA), which was formed last month, represents almost 20 independent breweries and a series of independent bars.
Their common goal is to get the laws in the North changed to allow them to sell their beers at their sites, as is the case in the rest of the UK, Ireland and beyond, as well as online.
The organisation is calling for Stormont’s new draft Licensing Bill to allow producers to sell direct to customers, including the thousands of tourists which descend on Northern Ireland each year.
The Republic of Ireland has already moved to modernise its own laws – allowing craft brewers to sell their drinks to members of the public to take away, between the hours of 10am and 7pm.
NIBIPA members say the currently proposed restrictions – where their vistitors would only be able to enjoy a small sample of beer after a guided tour - are not adequate or fit for purpose.
“The newly-formed Northern Ireland Brewery & Independent Pub Association (NIBIPA) has been set up to represent our top end, independent breweries and bars, and is calling for a modernising of our licensing laws to bring us in line with the rest of the UK and Ireland," says Matthew Dick, Co-Founder of Boundary Brewing In Belfast.
“Our friends and colleagues can already sell their beer directly to the public. But in Northern Ireland, it’s still not allowed.”
He added: “Many of our businesses have visitors coming from across the globe, to meet our breweries and brewers.
"But then we have to tell them that unfortunately, you can’t try any, or take any beer home with you.”
William Mayne, of Bullhouse Brewing in Belfast, added: “Our local food and drink producers remain key and growing components of our expanding tourism sector, and allowing us to sell direct to tourists, and local consumers alike, can only help see that grow further still.
“We are urging our politicians and ministers, along with members of the public, to show their support for this much-needed change.”
The draft Licensing Bill completed its first stage last month and went before the NI Assembly yesterday (Tuesday, November 3).