Robert Shields red tape nightmare over selling home brewed beer

Robert Shields

Robert Shields

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Business Editor

A HAMPSHIRE homebrewer has found himself tangled in masses of redtape, after wanting to sell his beer to a few friends.

Real ale lover Robert Shields who produces just 100 pints a month of his Moorlands and Runnymede bitters, has had to register as an official brewery, get two further licences and convert his shed into a bonded warehouse.

He then had to get a personal licence to sell alcohol and go on a training course before police ran a criminal record check on him.

Finally authorities demanded he put up notices in front of his house and take out official adverts in the Daily Echo.

Mr Shields, from Bishop’s Waltham, said: “I’m proud of my beer. I only started making it six months ago. I understand the need for all of this for an off licence or a pub, but it’s bit over the top for someone who wants to sell beer to their friends. This is not a public business but I still have to put up a notice saying I’m selling beer. Even though I’m not.

It’s only to friends.”

A spokesman for the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “It’s right that if you are selling it to people then you have to make sure it is of a demonstrable quality.

“I would suggest that he continues as a home brewer and shares it with his friends and if they want to chip in and help him buy the ingredients then there’s nothing wrong with that.”

The MISERY OF BUREAUCRACY:

BREWING red tape demanded that Mr Shields:

• Register as a brewery
• Start to measure the alcohol content of his beer
• Record the amount of malt he buys
• Create a bonded warehouse in his shed
• Pay duty of 20p a bottle
• Obtain a personal licence to sell alcohol
• Go on a one-day course
• Have his criminal record checked by police
• Obtain a premises licence for the sale of beer
• Pin up notices outside the front of his house
• Take out newspaper advertisements

Comments (8)

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12:22pm Sat 17 Oct 09

Ozmosis says...

"This is not a public business but I still have to put up a notice saying I’m selling beer. Even though I’m not. It’s only to friends"

There's a contradiction there - you are selling it, even if it's just to friends, therefore you are a brewery. Stick to brewing for fun. BTW I always measure the gravities - how else do you know if fermentation has "stuck"
"This is not a public business but I still have to put up a notice saying I’m selling beer. Even though I’m not. It’s only to friends" There's a contradiction there - you are selling it, even if it's just to friends, therefore you are a brewery. Stick to brewing for fun. BTW I always measure the gravities - how else do you know if fermentation has "stuck" Ozmosis
  • Score: 0

12:37pm Sat 17 Oct 09

Finlay says...

Get some chairs and hire them out to your friends when they visit to taste your hearty ales which you give to them for free.

If they want to sample say ten gallons then the chairs are hired out pro rata for the time it would take to consume the stuff.

Five gallons could be consumed in a shorter time than ten gallons hence the hire charge will naturally be less.

The caveat here is that they must come over to your's to taste the samples and then they take it home to conclude the sampling. Besides it's a gift from you to them. No crime committed here.

The fact that your business is chair hire can be documented on your tax returns (if necessary) - Your hobby is no-ones business
Get some chairs and hire them out to your friends when they visit to taste your hearty ales which you give to them for free. If they want to sample say ten gallons then the chairs are hired out pro rata for the time it would take to consume the stuff. Five gallons could be consumed in a shorter time than ten gallons hence the hire charge will naturally be less. The caveat here is that they must come over to your's to taste the samples and then they take it home to conclude the sampling. Besides it's a gift from you to them. No crime committed here. The fact that your business is chair hire can be documented on your tax returns (if necessary) - Your hobby is no-ones business Finlay
  • Score: 0

1:41pm Sat 17 Oct 09

Saintly Sinner says...

Invite your friends round for a beer and then make them pay for it, with friends like that, you don't need enemies.

"Cheers mate"



Invite your friends round for a beer and then make them pay for it, with friends like that, you don't need enemies. "Cheers mate" Saintly Sinner
  • Score: 0

2:00pm Sat 17 Oct 09

southy says...

“I would suggest that he continues as a home brewer and shares it with his friends and if they want to chip in and help him buy the ingredients then there’s nothing wrong with that.”
this is the best way to do it a point well made by the Campaign for real ale.
do it the way finlay says and you be subject to the business and tax laws.
be a good idea if he got insurance to just in case some one ends up going blind or gets blood posion
“I would suggest that he continues as a home brewer and shares it with his friends and if they want to chip in and help him buy the ingredients then there’s nothing wrong with that.” this is the best way to do it a point well made by the Campaign for real ale. do it the way finlay says and you be subject to the business and tax laws. be a good idea if he got insurance to just in case some one ends up going blind or gets blood posion southy
  • Score: 0

3:30pm Sat 17 Oct 09

CHIMPANZEE says...

cheers my friend. When can I come for a free pint or two
cheers my friend. When can I come for a free pint or two CHIMPANZEE
  • Score: 0

3:19pm Sun 18 Oct 09

goard says...

Get yourself some demi-jars and a bit of yeast and low and behold a gallon of alcohol enjoyment - but mind the morning after. As an interest, all apples, pears and anything that produces fruit, even potatoes and sultanas - ENJOY.
The beer will lift your hat off!

goard
Get yourself some demi-jars and a bit of yeast and low and behold a gallon of alcohol enjoyment - but mind the morning after. As an interest, all apples, pears and anything that produces fruit, even potatoes and sultanas - ENJOY. The beer will lift your hat off! goard goard
  • Score: 0

3:53pm Wed 28 Oct 09

cweb says...

I'm not sure what he's complaining about - the law is pretty clear on the sale of alcohol, and if you want to sell it, then you have to satisfy all the various requirements regardless of whether you sell one bottle or a million. And, measuring the ABV is done by any brewer anyhow using the start/finish gravities.

To be honest, what kind of a mate are you when you make your friends buy your beer?! Excellent quality homebrew only costs 20-30p a pint to make - and the profit he's making on producing 100 pints a month makes it hardly worth the effort - it'll will take him a long time to pay back the cost of the course and adverts!

Maybe he's just after a bit of free publicity so he can charge some more mates for beer?
I'm not sure what he's complaining about - the law is pretty clear on the sale of alcohol, and if you want to sell it, then you have to satisfy all the various requirements regardless of whether you sell one bottle or a million. And, measuring the ABV is done by any brewer anyhow using the start/finish gravities. To be honest, what kind of a mate are you when you make your friends buy your beer?! Excellent quality homebrew only costs 20-30p a pint to make - and the profit he's making on producing 100 pints a month makes it hardly worth the effort - it'll will take him a long time to pay back the cost of the course and adverts! Maybe he's just after a bit of free publicity so he can charge some more mates for beer? cweb
  • Score: 0

6:08pm Tue 3 Nov 09

Robert3 says...

Thanks for all your comments and advice! Just to set the record straight ...
I did not offer to sell beer to my friends - they asked to buy it.
I was approached by the reporter - I did not need the publicity.
A licence is needed to SUPPLY beer, whether it is given free or the ingredients are paid for (CAMRA advice is wrong).
I understand the need for nearly all the bureaucracy - my main point is that I want to conduct a private business (selling to people I know) but I have to put a public notice in the press and post a notice outside my house. This point was missed by the Reporter.
If anyone can tell me how I can legally give beer to my friends I would welcome the facts - not opinions, please.
But thanks for the interest!
Thanks for all your comments and advice! Just to set the record straight ... I did not offer to sell beer to my friends - they asked to buy it. I was approached by the reporter - I did not need the publicity. A licence is needed to SUPPLY beer, whether it is given free or the ingredients are paid for (CAMRA advice is wrong). I understand the need for nearly all the bureaucracy - my main point is that I want to conduct a private business (selling to people I know) but I have to put a public notice in the press and post a notice outside my house. This point was missed by the Reporter. If anyone can tell me how I can legally give beer to my friends I would welcome the facts - not opinions, please. But thanks for the interest! Robert3
  • Score: 0

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