Microbrewery needs licence

2017-06-14 06:01
Tata Mokwayi

Tata Mokwayi

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Question:

I have seen quite a number of microbreweries popping up around South Africa. If I wanted to start such a brewery, where would I start?

Answer:

To operate a micro-brewery where you manufacture liquor (at or below the threshold volume as prescribed by legislation) and sell it for retail purposes, it requires that you obtain a microbrewery or micro-manufacturing liquor licence. In the Free State, the Free State Gambling, Liquor and Tourism Authority is the correct liquor authority that must be approached for such a licence.

This authority issues various registration certificates for the sale and supply of liquor, which can be categorised into two main types, namely on-consumption licences (restaurant/tavern) and off-consumption licences (microbrewery/liquor store/wine grocer).

An applicant for a microbrewery licence may be a natural or juristic person such as a company or trust. The applicant will need to ensure that the premises are zoned for business use appropriate for the running of a microbrewery and that any building plans or renovations, should such be required, are approved by the local government (after considering recommendations by the local building control officer). However, you do not have to wait for your building work to be completed and may submit your application before you begin with the construction work.

From an equipment perspective, it is important that the correct brewing equipment is obtained and that such meet the requirements of applicable health and environmental specifications.

Should your brewery wish to cater for visitors, you will also need to look at aspects such as sufficient parking and health and safety compliance in respect of your potential patrons.

Your identified location is also important for your licence application. Your brewery should be at least 500 metres away from places of worship, educational institutions, schools or other similar facilities. As the public interest is taken into account by the liquor authority when considering licence applications, quite often licence applications are unsuccessful, because neighbours or members of the public object to the issuing thereof. On the other hand, factors such as contributing to tourism and creating employment can be factors that weigh in favour of an application.

Every application will have to go through a rigorous process before it can be approved by the liquor authority. Should you wish to start a microbrewery, it will be important that you understand the various steps and the information that needs to be correctly submitted with your application in order to position your application for positive consideration. Any non-compliance with the legal requirements will diminish your chances of successfully obtaining your licence and squash your dreams of opening up your own local brewery. We therefore strongly encourage consulting with a liquor application specialist to assist in the steps and information needed for submitting a compliant application for a micro-brewery licence.

– Tata Mokwayi, associate, Phatshoane Henney Attorneys

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