110616 NS beverage9 Olivia Morales, head of marketing, pours a beer for a visitor to the Abbey of the Holy Goats brewery Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. Photo by Bita Honarvar/Special
Photo: Bita Honarvar/Jason Getz
Photo: Bita Honarvar/Jason Getz

Legislative beer deal allows direct sales from breweries

Legislation filed in the state Senate on Thursday would clear the way for direct sales of beer at Georgia’s craft breweries and brew pubs. 

Senate Bill 85, sponsored by Sen. Rick Jeffares, R-McDonough, represents a compromise between the brewers and the state’s beer wholesalers who for years have fought to protect their position as middleman between beer manufacturers and retailers. 

All sides declared victory. 

The bill allows a consumer to buy up to a case a day directly from a brewery to take home and to buy a beer to drink on site. Brewpubs would also be allowed to sell beer to customers to take home. Finally, the bill ends the complicated tour-system lawmakers adopted in 2015, which allowed brewers to give away their beer to anyone who purchased a brewery tour. 

According to the most recent data from the Brewers Association, Georgia ranks 48th in breweries per capita, 41st in economic impact per capita, and 17th in overall craft beer production. In 2016 Georgia added 11 new breweries and brewpubs continuing a consistent trend of growth.

Nancy Palmer, executive director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, and Martin Smith, executive director of the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association, praised lawmakers in both the House and Senate for their work in reaching a compromise. 

“They understand the tremendous benefit this industry has on the local and state economy and are working with us to ensure Georgia remains a great state to brew beer,” Smith said. 

Palmer said Smith and the wholesalers’ support has been “crucial in this process,” and said lawmakers’ “commitment to supporting the small businesses of Georgia shines through in SB 85.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will again have Georgia’s largest team covering the Legislature. Get complete daily coverage during the legislative session at myAJC.com/georgialegislature.
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