Harpenden home brewer bids for off-licence set-up in his flat

Home brewer Mark Cottingham is producing more beer than he can drink!

Home brewer Mark Cottingham is producing more beer than he can drink! - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A Harpenden engineer has been granted permission to sell his home-brew from his first floor flat.

Hobby brewer Mark Cottingham makes 50 litres of beer at a time in the shed of his Overstone Road home.

That’s more than he can drink – so now he’s looking to share it with others.

He’s already talking to a tennis club and a local restaurant about the possibility of them taking some of the brew – with the hope of finding a couple of pubs too.

And now he’s asked for an ‘off-licence’ so he can sell and deliver his brew directly to friends, neighbours and other members of the public.

The application for the Harpenden Brauhaus ‘off-licence’ was approved by a meeting of St Albans district Council’s licensing sub-committee on Thursday.

As a result, limited numbers of the public will now be able to make purchases from the premises, by appointment only.

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However the business will not be permitted to operate on a ‘walk-in’ basis – nor will signage or advertising be allowed nearby.

At the hearing, Mr Cottingham – who will make deliveries – told the sub-committee of his love of making beer.

And he said he started ‘ramping’ up production when he returned to the UK and was “disappointed” with the beer commercially available.

He said: “I can’t drink as much as I produce and as I like producing I need something to do with the excess.”

And he added: “The key thing is that people up and down the street have asked to buy some – and I can’t legally do that with HMRC satisfaction without a premises licence.”

The committee heard that three councillors had objected to the application pointing to concerns related to crime and disorder and public nuisance.

But Mr Cottingham said the size of the 12ft by 6ft size of the shed and the scale of the operation would limit any inconvenience.

And although he said he would like to scale-up the operation in the future, he said that would have to be at a small industrial site elsewhere.

“It’s certainly not industrial,” he said. “And in terms of brewing capacity, a 12ft by 6ft shed with one brew pot inherently limits what I can actually produce on site.

“Should there actually be increased demand I think I would certainly need to out-source production of any larger volumes.”

And he stressed: “This is a hobby – it’s certainly not a full scale operation.

“And I just think the nature and size of the property prevent it ever reaching a size that would generate any sort of nuisance or inconvenience or in any way would affect the character or the residential nature of the area.”

In response to further concerns raised Mr Cottingham said CCTV would be installed at the garage that he uses for storage.

And he said the number of people picking up sales from the property would not impact on what was described as ‘an already busy road’.

In addition to sales, Mr Cottingham said he would like to hold ‘brewdays’ – that would allow people to brew their own beer in the shed.

He said: “If somebody – maybe a father and son who like beer, for a birthday or Father’s Day – want to design a beer and make a beer, then that’s something I would like to do.”

The licence will allow for the sale of alcohol between the hours of 9am to 9pm on Monday to Saturday and 10am to 9pm on Sundays.

However collections from the premises will only be allowed between 2pm and 9pm Mondays to Fridays, 10am to 9pm on Saturdays and 10am to 6pm on Sundays – with no more than one collection in any 30-minute period.

No more than six visitors – as part of a single group – will be allowed on the premises at any time.

Any appeal against the decision must be made within 21 days to Luton Magistrates Court.