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Auckland Alcohol Policy Could Burst City’s Craft Beer Boom

Auckland Alcohol Policy Could Burst City’s Craft Beer Boom

Proposed changes to Auckland’s local alcohol policy (LAP) could have disastrous consequences on the cities thriving beer culture, the Society of Beer Advocates believes.

Submissions closed yesterday (July 16) on the proposal, which could see a raft of changes including banning single bottle sales and restricting special licences.

Beer in New Zealand is enjoying a renaissance, with boutique brews encouraging people to drink less and enjoy the experience.

Certain sections of the LAP in their current form pose a real threat to this thriving community and the industry in Auckland, especially to beer festivals that play a vital role in introducing and educating drinkers about beer.

Section 7.3.1, which suggests special licences could face restrictions on the size and strength of alcohol, the number of drinks sold per person and even the type of vessels used could have a huge negative impact on Auckland beer festivals.

Restricting beers with more than 6% ABV puts breweries that specialise in high alcohol beers at a disadvantage and would discourage organisers from selecting those beers, making it difficult to run a proper beer festival.

Beer stronger than 6% has been singled out in the LAP but wine and other drinks, which are usually much stronger than 6% are not even mentioned

SOBA believes banning the sale of higher-strength beer after certain times is grossly unfair to both venues that specialise in beer and the brewers who make it.

“It seems ridiculous that under discretionary conditions 6.3.2 and 4.5.2, after a certain time consumers will be unable to enjoy a glass of a hoppy US style India Pale Ale at 7% ABV, but will be perfectly able to order a glass of a 14% ABV Pinot Noir,” SOBA president David Wood says.

SOBA has shown at its own events, both in Auckland and Wellington, that beer festivals can contain high alcohol beers without incident.

Another restriction on single unit off-licence sales in less than 445ml packaging is also flawed, with the exemption for “boutique and handcrafted beer and cider” incredibly vague.

In a rapidly changing industry, any attempt by the council to define what is “boutique and handcrafted” will surely end in aspects of the hugely diverse range of beer now available in Auckland being affected.

About the Society of Beer Advocates:

The Society of Beer Advocates was formed in 2006. It is a consumer-based organisation with a mission to educate, promote, and advocate for the appreciation of, and access to, a diverse range of quality beer.

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