Around six million pints of beer brewed for the reopening of indoor hospitality on July 5th are now at risk, according to industry body Drinks Ireland.
The group estimates that 70,000 kegs of beer, equating to around six million pints, have been brewed to restock 3,500 hospitality outlets in preparation for the reopening.
It comes as a delay to the return of indoor hospitality is looking increasingly likely, as Government and official sources indicated the full return of pubs and restaurants will be pushed back from the planned date.
Head of Beer at Drinks Ireland, Jonathan McDade, said the country’s hospitality sector and its brewers required “crystal clear clarity urgently” on a reopening date for the sector.
“The yo-yo approach last year, which saw pubs open and close either nationally or regionally five times with very little notice, was logistically challenging and had massive financial consequences for brewers,” he said.
“This is something we expressed to Government time and time again, and something we hoped would never happen again. With the July 5th date set, the sector finally had some clarity, and indeed notice, to brew beer, deliver kegs and clean lines.
“All this work is jeopardised unless brewers get crystal clear clarity urgently from Government on whether the 5th of July reopening is going ahead. If there is going to be a delay, we need a firm commitment on a new reopening date.”
The representative body for beer manufacturers and suppliers in Ireland said stouts and certain ales have a short shelf life and should be fresh for customers when venues reopen.
It warned that if the reopening date was pushed out, many kegs would have to be collected for recycling, repurposing or destruction.
Brewers said that a “lead-in time” of at least five weeks is required to brew and deliver beer to pubs nationwide, with delivery operations already underway.
It comes after the chief of the health service, Paul Reid, said the Government has a “difficult decision” to make over allowing indoor dining to return on July 5th amid concerns about a surge of the Delta variant, first identified in India.
The Cabinet is to decide next Thursday if it will give the sector the green light, following a meeting with the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).
Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys has said the Government wants to be sure that businesses that open can “stay open”.
“Because we don’t want a situation where they open, then they find they have to close down a couple of weeks later, that is not what anybody wants,” she said.
The Minister said the Government is examining ways to speed up the vaccination rollout to combat the threat posed by the Delta variant, which is more transmissible than other strains of the coronavirus.
She said a delay to the lifting of restrictions would be beneficial because “it means that more people will be vaccinated”.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) and publicans from the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) have all called for urgent clarity on a reopening date.