Georgia beer bill signed by Gov. Deal

Grabbing your favorite brew will be a little easier this summer, after Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill Tuesday allowing customers to take home more beer from Georgia’s craft breweries.

Senate Bill 63 had a rough journey this year at the Capitol, where Georgia’s Prohibition Era ban on in-house sales by local breweries has been wholeheartedly protected by the state’s wholesalers who otherwise play a role in beer sales across the state.

The bill initially proposed allowing craft brewers to sell directly to consumers, but that mandate did not make it into the final version signed by Deal.

Instead, the new law will allow breweries to charge for a tour and, depending on how much someone pays, the tour could include the beer as a free souvenir — up to the limits.

Those limits allow 36 ounces of beer to be consumed “on-premise” of a brewery and up to 72 ounces of beer — the equivalent of a six-pack — to be taken home. Patrons would also be able to take home up to 750 milliliters of liquor from a local distillery.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Smyrna, has said the state’s nearly 40 craft breweries — nearly double the number of just a few years ago — deserved a chance to make a little extra money to reinvest in their business and the local economy.

Craft brewers weren’t thrilled with the final product but still celebrated what they said was an improvement for both them and their customers. Some even brewed cask of “Hunter Hill IPA” in honor of the bill’s sponsor, which they tapped last month at a celebratory get-together.

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