Lawmakers in 2015 passed legislation that allowed Georgians to pay for a tour of a brewery and receive free beer afterward. It remains illegal for breweries to sell beer directly to consumers. Breweries, like liquor distilleries, must sell their product to wholesalers, who then sell it to retailers.
Once the law took effect, breweries began offering different tours at different costs based on the kind and price of beer offered. Two months later, however, in September, the Revenue Department issued new rules that said the tour price cannot vary based on the beer given away. The brewers were furious and said the agency had succumbed to the wishes of the wholesalers.
After months of negotiations during this year’s legislative session, the Department of Revenue announced in April issued new proposed rules, which took effect earlier this month.
While Georgia brewers are pleased the new rules are in effect, they say more changes are still needed.
“We are excited that this weekend consumers across the state can get free samples and free souvenirs from Georgia’s brewers, but it’s time for Georgia’s legislators to allow breweries to sell those pints and six packs,” Palmer said.
Palmer said 48 states allow breweries to sell beer direct to consumers.
“These Georgia small businesses and entrepreneurs need a permanent and common sense fix next session, when it comes to direct sales to consumers and retailers and making the brewer-wholesaler relationship more equitable,” she said.