UK: Nothern Ireland pub owners pressured not to sell independently-brewed beer
Some Northern Ireland pub owners have been pressured by large drinks firms not to sell independently-brewed beer, a local brewing company has alleged, the BBC reported on January 21.
Independent brewing companies have been giving evidence to a Stormont committee on new changes to Northern Ireland's licensing laws.
They say micro-breweries should be allowed to sell draught beer in so-called tap rooms.
The brewers also deny that they would be in direct competition with pubs.
Laurie Davies, from the Lacada Brewery in Portrush, County Antrim, said it was "a scandal" that breweries could not serve customers and tourists draught beer, when they were able to do so in towns across the Republic of Ireland.
He told Stormont's communities committee that some staff from major drinks firms were putting pubs under pressure not to serve micro-brewery beers.
"We have experienced, when we put a (draught beer) tap in bars, there have been reps from the macro (brewery) saying to the owners: 'Take that Lacada tap off or we will stop your discount'," said Mr Davies.
He said the large brewing companies had "locked" the smaller businesses out of the draught beer trade.
Committee chair Paula Bradley said members had heard previous evidence from Hospitality Ulster that if tap rooms were permitted, they would be in direct competition with pubs.
However, the micro-brewery representatives denied this and said they offered a vastly different experience, with no food, no music and no televised sports events.
Erol Bucukoglu, from Lacada Brewery, said tap rooms boosted tourism in the areas they were located and also increased business for local pubs.