Speaking to delegates at The Morning Advertiser’s Beer Summit in Manchester today (12 July), Matthew Phipps, partner and head of licensing at law firm TLT LLP, outlined some of the issues operators and brewers need to consider, as well as some of the solutions.
“We now have more breweries than we’ve ever had since the 1930s and every single one of those that offers customer access and/or consumption could and should have a licence,” he said.
“If you have visitors for tours and brewery days, tasting is not licensable (unless you’re in Scotland), but if there is a sale and you charge for the tour, then you need a licence.”
As more brewers and pubs seek out sales opportunities online, known as off-sales, they must consider who is buying it, whether they are legally allowed to and how, as an operator, you can prevent such sales from occurring.
“A licence from a delivery perspective will have various restrictions and the training with those making the deliveries is the likes of the right not to deliver,” said Phipps.
“What happens if it’s someone who is using the delivery system because they wouldn’t get served in a F2F environment? You will need to have thought about that because you could have your licence application revoked.”
Taprooms, meanwhile, may fare better during licensing negotiations, especially if they’re selling beer in quantities under a pint.
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"Taprooms are all but a pub or bar, but they won’t necessarily want to sell pints,” said Phipps. “Beer flights work well for people who have taprooms because they’re able to show more products.
“From a licensing perspective, authorities love hearing that you’re not a high-volume pint seller, but if you sell thirds or halves then they like that.”
But Phipps’s biggest tip when seeking licences is to get the authorities on side by selling your idea to them, which must be carefully considered before an application is made.
Don't just hope for the best
He continued: “You need to get the authorities to understand what you’re trying to sell, how and why. They’re not concerned about craft, but kids and street drinking.
“If you’re making an application, don’t just put it in and hope for the best. You can’t do that anymore,” he continued.
“You need to have a dialogue. Produce something like a brochure with photographs, your drinks range, the styles you produce and what your training is in terms of how staff talk about the product and learn and develop.
“If you can get licensing officers in a position where they feel like you will go to them for help, you’re likely to get your application granted. You have to be engaged and explain to them that you’re the exception to the rule.”
The Beer Summit was brought to you by The Morning Advertiser in association with Diageo and law firm TLT LLP.