“I’ve seen quite a number of micro-breweries popping up around South Africa. If I wanted to start such a brewery, where would I start?”
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 micro-brewery 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 micro-brewery 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 micro-brewery 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). You don’t have to wait for your building work to be completed however, and may submit your application before you commence 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 and/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. Factors such as contributing to tourism, creating employment etc. on the other hand 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 micro-brewery 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 quash 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.