As noted back in January, Georgia’s craft beer breweries and wholesalers reached a truce, resulting in the new rules taking effect just in time for Memorial Day holiday weekend:
- Georgia Breweries can now offer visitor tours at different prices based on the quantity and type of beer offered as “free souvenirs”
“The Georgia Craft Brewers Guild is deeply appreciative of the work the Department of Revenue did in getting these regulations written and approved,” Guild executive director Nancy Palmer said. “Today breweries across the state can now use social media to talk about where their products are sold, and they can charge whatever prices they see fit for their tour and tasting packages, including tours with to-go souvenirs.”
For now, Georgia craft beer fans will have to wait to get their growlers filled directly at the brewery. It remains illegal for Georgia’s 52 breweries to sell beer directly to consumers. Breweries, like liquor distilleries, must sell their product to wholesalers, who then sell it to retailers.
Original Article can be found here; thanks to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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.
*Tip of the hat to GA Beer Laws; Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Charlotte news outlet FOX 46 interviewed Olde Mecklenburg Brewery‘s sales director about their decision to back out of the Triad market due to the NC law capping craft beer production at 25,000 barrels per year. Click here for the video.
Opponents of the current law claim that the annual 25,000 barrel limit abruptly cuts off small breweries’ abilities to grow, and does little to incentivize their investment in delivery trucks, kegs, and new employees. Once a brewery hits the cap, they are required to hand over distribution for ALL of their beer to a third-party distributor, thus third party would gain control over all sales, delivery, distribution and quality control during transportation (everything that matters to the Brewery), resulting in a loss about 30% of the brewery’s revenue and margin to the distributor.
Many breweries would prefer to engage a third-party distributor as their own business decision, and not be forced to comply with an arbitrary rule. While North Carolina is often cited to have the most “beer-friendly” laws in the Southeastern USA, there is still room for improvement. South Carolina limits breweries to selling 48 ounces of beer to consumers in a 24-hour period, while Georgia breweries have been fighting for over a decade for the mere ability to sell growlers.
The craft beer scene has exploded in cities like Asheville, Charlotte and Raleigh, creating jobs and adding to the tourism industry. Local consumers and beer fans alike could help to further convince legislators to update the law to meet today’s practical considerations.
See also: http://www.craftfreedom.org
Link to Opinion piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Kyle Wingfield from January 2, 2016:
No More Small Beer Reform of Georgia’s Alcohol Laws