A rather convoluted version of what state Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Smyrna, and the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild dubbed the “Beer Jobs Bill” passed during the final hours of the 2015 legislative session and was later signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal.
But among the new and improved provisions set to take effect on July 1, breweries will be permitted to charge for tours, which can include up to 36 ounces of beer (up from 32 ounces) to consume during tastings and up to 72 ounces (equal to a six-pack) of free beer to take home as a “souvenir.” And food vendors, including food trucks, can now be part of the tour and tasting festivities.
Last week, during a tour at SweetWater Brewing in Atlanta, Steve Farace, the company’s longtime “Minister of Propaganda,” was at the bar in the tasting room giving a glimpse of things to come in the form of new growlers.
Come July 1, the empty 64-ounce brown glass jugs — which are adorned with the brightly colored SweetWater fish logo label and motto, “Don’t Float The Mainstream” — will be filled from taps in the tasting room as part of a new menu of tour and take-away options.
“We’ve had growlers as glassware gifts for years here,” Farace said, raising his voice above the din of the swelling crowd lined up around the bar. “But seeing a full one go across the bar and out the door was not something we thought was possible for us in the near term as breweries in Georgia.”
In anticipation of the law changes, SweetWater has been making plans to deal with more traffic and demand for beer to go, Farace said. “We’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen. But right out of the gate, we’re hiring four more people just to be prepared for what may be.”
Asked about the long-term impact of the changes, Farace smiled and said, “I think it’s going to add a different dynamic to breweries in Georgia. It’s going to help a lot of the smaller guys who are just getting started and struggling to get brand recognition. It will allow people to sample their beer at the brewery and at home.
“For us, it’s going to be a different dynamic, especially with the thousands of people who come through our doors every week. We want to see what their response is. They have plenty of options for places where they can get SweetWater beer, and that’s the cool thing, for us and for them.”
A sampling of new brewery tours and tastings
Some metro Atlanta breweries are taking a wait-and-see approach to the July 1 changes. But many have special events planned and are launching new menus of tour, tasting and take-away options for visitors, beginning July 1, over the July Fourth weekend, and beyond. Check brewery websites for the latest information on tour times and tasting room hours and prices.
Burnt Hickory, Kennesaw: Releasing its once-a-year barrel-aged barley wine offering, Killdozer, the minute the calendar changes to July 1, with three bottles per person for anyone who pays for the “Souvenir Tour.” Going forward, look for more options, including 22-ounce bombers, mixed six-packs, and growler fills of other beers. Expanding tour hours to Tuesdays-Saturdays every week. 2260 Moon Station Court, No. 210, Kennesaw. 770-514-8812, burnthickorybrewery.com.
Creature Comforts, Athens: Adding “crowlers,” 32-ounce cans filled and seamed on site, which will be offered as a free souvenir option, as well as six-pack cans and some previously released 750-milliliter bottles. Tasting tour changes are still under consideration, but hiring new tour staff, one full-time tour manager, and offering tour options that include tastings of higher-alcohol, limited release beers. 271 W. Hancock Ave., Athens. 706-410-1043, creaturecomfortsbeer.com.
Eventide, Atlanta: Opened its tasting room in Grant Park on June 20, with ongoing tour hours Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Souvenir 32-ounce crowler and 64-once growler fills available after July 1. 1015 Grant St. S.E., Atlanta. 404-907-4543, eventidebrewing.com.
Monday Night, Atlanta: New tours starting July 2: $10 tour and tasting — 36 ounces and a pint glass; $10 “Take It Home” tour souvenir 22-ounce bomber or six-pack, including a mixed six-pack; $20 tour with two bombers; $30 tour with three bombers and a bottle opener. Tuesday tours starting July 14. Saturday tours will expand one hour starting July 18. 670 Trabert Ave. N.W., Atlanta. 404-352-7703, mondaynightbrewing.com.
Orpheus, Atlanta: Introducing tiered pricing for tours, starting with four different packages: $12 tour and tasting (up to 36 ounces) with take-home pint glass; $12 tour and six-pack souvenir (can add pint glass for $2); $24 tour, tasting, souvenir six-pack and pint glass. Extending tasting room hours by 30 minutes. 1440 Dutch Valley Place N.E., Atlanta. orpheusbrewing.com.
Red Brick, Atlanta: Opening for extended hours from 1-8 p.m. July 3, and offering limited specialty growlers and 22-ounce bottles from the cellar. Everyone who opts for a souvenir growler will be entered to win a brew day with Red Brick. Offering all core, seasonal and specialty products in bottles and cans as souvenir options. Will soon add special brewery-only releases to the lineup. 2323 Defoor Hills Road, Atlanta. 404-355-5558, redbrickbrewing.com.
Red Hare, Marietta: Expanding hours and offering three tour packages starting July 1: $10 Pint Glass Tour includes 36 ounces of beer, a souvenir pint glass, and $4 upgrade to can-shaped pint glass; $10 Six-Pack Tour includes six canned beers to take home, including a mix-pack option; $15 Growler/Bomber Tour includes a specialty bomber or a 64-ounce growler. 1998 Delk Industrial Blvd. S.E., Marietta. 678-401-0600, redharebrewing.com.
Reformation, Woodstock: “Taking it slow and waiting to see how the market adjusts to the new law,” but will be bottling “Commons” 22-ounce bombers, which will be available in July in the “Keeping Room” at the brewery. 500 Arnold Mill Way, Woodstock. 678-341-0828, reformationbrewery.com.
Second Self, Atlanta: Expanded Friday and Saturday hours and added Thursday tours. From 4-8 p.m. July 3, hosting “Beerly Legal” party to celebrate the law changes, with chef Rusty Bowers of Pine Street Market grilling all day at the event. Offering souvenir six-packs and growlers of limited release XMas in July summer-spiced Belgian double. 1311 Logan Circle N.W., Atlanta. 678-916-8035, secondselfbeer.com.
SweetWater, Atlanta: New tour options and packages: tour and pint glass; tour and six-pack (mix-and-match options and high-gravity available); tour and 22-ounce bomber (high-gravity options available); tour and 750-milliliter cork and cage bottle; tour and growler (high-gravity options available). The Spiedie Zone food truck will be on site for tours and tastings. 195 Ottley Drive N.E., Atlanta. 404-691-2537, sweetwaterbrew.com.
Terrapin, Athens: Switching to pours of 6 or 12 ounces. Offering promotional tours with souvenir six-pack cans of core brands: Rye, Golden, Hopsecutioner, Recreation Ale, and Hi-5. Will eventually offer crowlers and 22-ounce special release bottles. Adding an extra tour in the early afternoon on Fridays and Saturdays, offering flights and longer/more in-depth guided tours of the brewery. Souvenir glasses with all promotional tours. 265 Newton Bridge Road, Athens. 706-549-3377, terrapinbeer.com.
Three Taverns, Decatur: Opening 5-9 p.m. July 1 for a special Beer Independence Day and unveiling a new growler station and menu selection of tours and take-home souvenir beer. Will have a food vendor on hand for the celebration. New tour hours Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Pouring sample beers in “proper” Three Taverns glassware rather than tasting glasses. 121 New St., Decatur. 404-600-3355, www.threetavernsbrewery.com.
Wild Heaven, Avondale Estates: Adding Thursday tours and extending hours for “drink here” tours and tastings. Offering crowlers (not filling growlers), as well as making available all packaged products, including a mixed six-pack, for “take beer to-go” souvenir tour packages. 135 B Maple St., Decatur. 404-997-8589, wildheavencraftbeers.com.
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