Single bottle ban slated

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 09:07 28/05/2014
The Voyager of the Seas,
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ
QUALITY CONTROL: Renaissance Brewery chief executive Brian Thiel, who supplies about eight varieties of craft beer to Super Liquor Grove Road in Blenheim, says the brewery would be out of business if single bottle sales were banned.

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A proposal to ban the sale of single bottles of beer in Marlborough has been labelled ridiculous by members of the hospitality industry.

The District Licensing Committee heard 19 spoken submissions on the Marlborough District Council's draft local alcohol policy on Monday.

Most of those who spoke questioned the origin and logic of a rule in the policy that banned the sale of single bottles of beer or ready-to-drink (RTDs) beverages.

Grove Road Super Liquor owner Maurice McQuillan, of Blenheim, said banning single bottle sales would spell the end of craft beer.

He understood the rule came about from larger cities such as Auckland, where people would buy a single bottle in town before going to another pub.

His liquor store stocked about 50 varieties of craft beer, which were all sold by single bottle.

The proposed rule had not been thought out properly, he said.

"They're actually forcing people to drink more."

Craft beer was becoming increasingly popular, with demand and sales shooting up during the past year.

Two years ago the Grove Rd liquor store sold only small volumes of craft beer, he said. Last year he had to hire a fulltime employee to keep the selection of craft beer stocked during the Christmas period.

"Craft beer is getting more and more popular by the day, and banning the sale of a single bottle will just stop that," he said.

Renaissance Brewery chief executive Brian Thiel said the proposed rule was a "bit ridiculous".

The Marlborough brewery supplied to all major supermarkets in Blenheim and some bottle stores.

Every retailer that stocked Renaissance sold it by single bottles, Thiel said.

"Our beer is too expensive for the average person to buy 12 bottles," he said.

"You could potentially spend $10 for a really nice beer, but if you had to buy a 12-pack, you probably wouldn't buy it."

A 500 millilitre bottle of craft beer cost between $8 and $12 and varied in terms of its alcohol content.

If the sale of single bottles was banned, Renaissance would struggle to sell beer in Marlborough, Thiel said.

"We'd be out of business," he said. "Almost all craft beers are sold by the bottle."

If the rule was imposed, he believed wine should also be included, he said.

"If I was going out and wanted to get wasted, I'd buy a bottle of wine for $6.99 rather than a bottle of craft beer for $10. And I'd have money left over for a cheeseburger."

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Hospitality New Zealand regional manager Jeanette Swift said at the hearing the rule made no sense.

"It actually encourages patrons to buy more products or a higher alcohol volume of drink."

Senior Sergeant Dan Mattison, of Blenheim, said the single bottle proposal was not raised by Marlborough police.

Marlborough District Council staff member Mike Porter said in a written response to the Express on behalf of the Liquor Licensing Authority, that the authority did not approve of single bottle sales, which could lead to alcohol abuse.

The single bottle issue was included in the policy to generate discussion, he said.

It came from Judge John Hole, one of three District Court judges on the Alcohol Regulation and Licensing Authority. One of the authority's roles was to issue directions to guide the practices of district licensing committee, Porter said.

"The judge's comments were construed by us to be a direction so we included it for discussion purposes."

- The Marlborough Express

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