Wellington bottle store restricted to high-quality drinks video

CAMERON BURNELL/Dominion Post.

What makes a beer "Premium"?

Beer snobbery has reached a new height in the capital, with a proposed bottle store granted a license only if it sticks to selling top-shelf brews.

And approval could signal a big change for buying a drink throughout the capital, as regulators seek to clamp down on selling cheap alcohol and "nudge" people away from binge drinking.

Plans to set-up a new off-license, to be known as Capital Craft Beer Co, on Manners St in Wellington were initially opposed by Police and Regional Public Heath during a district licensing committee hearing this morning.

Fears Capital Craft Beer Co would be would be just another "common variety bottle store"  were allayed after owner James ...
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Fears Capital Craft Beer Co would be would be just another "common variety bottle store" were allayed after owner James Tucker agreed to sell only high quality alcohol and close at 9pm.

They argued there were already far too many liquor establishments in the CBD, contributing to a late night disorderly, and often violent, culture.

"At midnight it was like someone flicked a switch ... the CBD area was really humming and swarming with people that were clearly intoxicated," Senior Sergeant Steve Sargent said.

There were already 260 on-licensed premises, and 22 bottle stores or supermarkets within 750 metres on the proposed bottle store.

Sargent was also concerned the "craft" name was a cover, and it would be just another "common variety bottle store".

However both the police and regional public health agreed to drop their opposition after the bottle store owner, James Tucker, agreed to sell only high quality alcohol and close at 9pm.

Medical Officer of Health Stephen Palmer said the more expensive booze would be priced out of the range of young people engaged in late night harmful binge drinking in CBD.

The wording of just how expensive a bottle of beer, spirits or wine would have to be has yet to be negotiated. 

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Tucker argued Heineken was a premium drop worthy of gracing his shelves, but Palmer said it was more akin to the mainstream Tui than a craft brew.

Committee chairman Sir Douglas Kidd said wine could also be tricky, as even a $10 Marlborough Savignon Blanc could be considered premium.

"There is not honestly many New Zealand wines I could call cheap plonk."

Regardless, it appears Wellington could soon be the craft beer capital by name and regulation.

 - The Dominion Post

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