Georgia craft breweries: ‘This is not a victory’

Georgia breweries won’t be seeing any changes to the three-tier system this year. In a deal reached Tuesday, the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild agreed to drop attempts to introduce legislation in exchange for an adjustment to Department of Revenue regulations.

The deal, according to the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association, means the DOR will issue new rules that will, among other things, allow brewers to again sell brewery tours at variable prices based on the kind of beer offered.

You can read more about the deal’s history and specifics here.

“They’re giving us back the 10-cent lollipop they originally gave us on July 1 and took from us on Sept. 25,” said Scott Hedeen, brewmaster and owner of Burnt Hickory Brewery in Kennesaw.

In a statement, Nancy Palmer, the Guild’s executive director, said the deal will make “regulatory fixes to the brewing industry.”

“We look forward to quick implementation,” Palmer said. 

Many of Georgia craft breweries were on a conference call with the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. The Guild has discouraged members from commenting publicly on the deal.

On the call, the Guild told its members, “This is where we are. We need to fall back,” said Nathan Cowan, CEO of Eventide Brewery in Atlanta. “It’s David versus Goliath.”

Cowan said he doesn’t expect the deal to change how he runs his business.

“It effects the consumer because they’re confused,” Cowan said.

Geoffrey Williams, Eventide Brewery brewmaster, said this is “not a victory for breweries.”

“They changed regulation to allow what was right for breweries to have in the first place,” Williams said.

On social media, some celebrated the news, some showed disappointment that the deal isn’t accomplishing more for Georgia breweries. Many called for called for clarity on what the latest development really means.

“This still could be interpreted 17 different ways,” Williams said.

Scroll through the various reactions below.

Not super familiar with Georgia's craft beers and breweries? Not a problem. Your complete Georgia beer guide is here.

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