No sense rehashing all of this great ranting and details of the bill originally published on Jan. 27. Here it all is again, with the knowledge that it has been officially signed.
I went on a rant Monday. Why should Georgia’s craft brewers not be allowed to sell some beer directly to customers? State law says they can’t. Only Georgia and the ancient civilization known as Mississippi don’t allow such direct sales to customers. Why? Old laws? Wholesalers that are afraid the three-tier system is in danger? Legislators that are being lobbied not to pass such laws by biased parties? Yeah, all of those things.
Well, it was a pleasant surprise to see yesterday that Georgia Senator Rick Jeffares, R-McDonough, introduced a bill (Senate Bill 85) to allow such sales and more — and here’s the kicker — both brewers and wholesalers agree on it. Fist pump! From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
The bill allows a consumer to buy up to a case a day directly from a brewery to take home and to buy a beer to drink on site. Brewpubs would also be allowed to sell beer to customers to take home. Finally, the bill ends the complicated tour-system lawmakers adopted in 2015, which allowed brewers to give away their beer to anyone who purchased a brewery tour.
Senator Rick Jeffares (R – McDonough), chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee, introduced Senate Bill 85, which will allow breweries to sell up to 3,000 barrels of the beer they manufacture to consumers visiting the brewery. If passed, consumers will be able to enjoy fresh beer by the glass, take up to one case to go, and purchase food without the tour package that is currently required. Furthermore, the bill slightly modifies the brewpub license to reinforce local control on issues of to-go sales from brewpubs.
Throughout the summer and fall of 2016 business leaders from craft breweries and their wholesale partners met to discuss common sense updates to benefit the beer industry in Georgia.
“With suggestions championed by both brewers and wholesalers, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), House Regulated Industries Committee Chairman Howard Maxwell (R- Dallas), and Senator Jeffares have provided guidance to create this legislation. Their commitment to supporting the small businesses of Georgia shines through in SB 85,” said Nancy Palmer, Executive Director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild. According to Palmer the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association is also due credit, “The business leaders of the GBWA have been crucial in this process.”
We’ll keep you updated on the progress of this bill, but it seems like it’s got some pretty good legs.