Craft beer sales 'will suffer'

Planned changes to Auckland's alcohol policy would have a "devastating" impact on the craft beer industry, a Marlborough brewer says.

The draft policy from the Auckland Council proposes a restriction on the sale of beers with an alcohol volume of 6 per cent or more.

Moa Brewing Company founder Josh Scott said they had a big market in Auckland, and such amendments would hurt their business.

Planned changes meant Auckland bars that open until 1am or 2am would not be allowed to sell beer stronger than 6 per cent alcohol volume within an hour of their closing time.

Bars open after 2am would be banned from selling strong beer within two hours of closing, while events with a special liquor licence would be barred from selling the stronger beer.

Bottle stores would also be banned from selling single bottles of beer smaller than 445ml unless it was boutique or hand-crafted.

"I guess they are trying to target the mainstream drinkers but craft is such a small thing that we get effected by [such changes]. I shouldn't generalise but we are not the problem drinkers," Scott said.

Banning the sale of high-percentage craft beers would have little impact on the drinking culture in New Zealand, he said.

Having worked in a Blenheim bar, it was clear that beer was not a problem late at night. "You could pretty much draw a line in the sand, by 10pm, people weren't drinking wine or beer, it was spirits and cocktails," Scott said.

Renaissance Brewing development manager Roger Kerrison said a limited craft beer scene in Auckland meant that their business would not be greatly impacted if such changes came into play.

"A small percentage of our beers probably couldn't be sold for an hour or two hours, I don't really think that's going to have a massive impact on us to be honest." The company also produced a large range of beers which were under the 6 per cent alcohol volume, Kerrison said.

He agreed that craft beer drinkers were unlikely to be causing issues late at night.

"The people who drink craft beer, most people have probably headed home or are in taxis by midnight."

If the Marlborough District Council was to follow suit and adopt similar changes, it would have even less of an impact on them with Dodson Street Beer Garden closing by about 11pm, and hotels stocking the beer having a 24-hour liquor licence, Kerrison said.

The council could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Submissions on Auckland's policy closed last week and a provisional policy was to be published later this year.

The Marlborough Express