Georgia craft beer breweries and distilleries have reportedly reached an agreement with the state’s wholesalers in an attempt to avoid further battles over how these small businesses operate.
How did we get here? Last year, Georgia legislators passed laws to allow customers to purchase a brewery tour and receive “free” beer at the end of tour. Under that law, breweries would offer different tours at varying price points depending on the style and price of the beer offered. Two months later, the Department of Revenue responded with new rules, forbidding breweries from changing the price of the tours based on the type of beer offered. Local breweries were furious, accusing the Department of Revenue for giving in to the demands of the wholesalers. Since then, the brewers and distillers combined forces and been demanding sweeping changes to Georgia’s alcohol laws.
What are the terms of the truce? According to the deal, the Georgia Department of Revenue will issue new rules:
- Allow brewers again to sell brewery tours at variable prices based on the kind of beer offered.
- Allow special events at breweries and distilleries.
- Let brewers, distilleries and wholesalers use social media to alert the public about where to buy their products or advertise special events.
- Allow third parties to sell tour tickets.
- Let breweries and distilleries sell food on site.
- And…the breweries and distilleries have promised not to seek any further changes to the alcohol laws for 2016.
Members of the Georgia Brewers Guild don’t see this as a “win” for breweries right now, but others hope that it’s a tiny step in the right direction.