Deal signs bill to allow alcohol sales from breweries, distilleries

It wasn’t timed for happy hour, but Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday made sure to please fans of craft beer and liquor.

The governor signed Senate Bill 85 into law, which for the first time allows beer and liquor manufacturers to sell their products directly to consumers from the manufacturing plant.

Drinkers, however, will have to wait a few more months to take advantage of the new law: It doesn't take effect until Sept. 1.

But, when Labor Day comes around, consumers will be able to visit their favorite brewery or distillery and take home a limited amount of booze from each.

The new rules are considered a major victory for the state's growing craft alcohol industry as well as an important compromise from the state's alcohol wholesalers.

Georgia’s “three-tier” system of alcohol distribution previously only allowed manufacturers to sell to wholesalers, who sold to retailers, who sold to the consumer. Georgia was one of the last states in the country to allow limited sales direct from the manufacturer.

An earlier compromise allowed breweries and distilleries to sell tours of their plants and allow tour-goers to take limited amounts of alcohol home.

The Craft Beer Bill passed the house this morning, but still needs senate approval which could allow consumers to buy beer directly onsite from breweries.