Alan Kelly reveals his 'hopportunity' idea so breweries can tap into beer tourism
It wasn't quite a 'piss up' on the Leinster House plinth but Alan Kelly was in his own words feeling a bit "crafty".
The Labour Party TD has drafted a new bill seeking to give craft beer producers the right to sell alcohol directly from their breweries.
While the Dáil is preparing to debate a Government bill that will restrict alcohol sales, Mr Kelly said it was missing a "hoppertunity" to grow tourism.
The Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Bill 2016 would allow businesses to sell their own produce to tourists and other visitors on site, which is not the case under current licensing laws.
"Can you imagine a situation existing in Italy, France or Spain, where tourists visiting vineyards are prevented from purchasing wine at the end of their tour?" he asked.
Microbreweries across the country employ 439 full-time workers.
There are businesses in 23 of the 26 counties, with a projected turnover of €59m this year.
Mr Kelly said that if some of these sites could be turned into visitor attractions the growth in 'craft beer tourism' could be "phenomenal".
"There are many people who are interested in distilleries," he said.
"We know about the Jameson Experience and Guinness Storehouse. However, the microbreweries, if they really want to invest in this, need to be able to allow people to purchase and taste the produce on the site."
His proposal would limit brewery sales to between 10am and 6pm while fines would be issued if owners sold alcohol that was not brewed on site.
And in case you were wondering, Mr Kelly's favourite craft beer is White Gypsy, which is brewed in Templemore.