New Georgia Beer Bill Postponed Until 2017
It appears that we’ll have to wait another year before knowing how Georgia will regulate its craft brewing industry. If you haven’t been following this story, allow us to give you a quick recap.
Back in July 2015, the self-proclaimed “Beer Jobs Bill” was set to go into effect. The bill would’ve allowed Georgia craft brewers to sell tours of their facilities and offer a limited amount of their beers as take-home souvenirs. Many brewers sold these tours at variable prices, depending on the type of beer that would be given out.
On September 25, however, the state Revenue Department issued a bulletin saying that while brewers can offer different levels of tours, the price differences cannot be based on the market value of the beer they give away. This angered many craft brewers, as some had invested large sums of money into building new tasting rooms, hiring employees, and marketing their new tours.
2016 Georgia Beer Bill
As a way to settle the matter once and for all, a new Georgia Beer Bill was scheduled to be filed in the state House. This new bill would allow brewers to:
- Offer direct sales at their tasting rooms as well as retail to-go sales
- Sell food in their tasting rooms
- Self-distribute up to 5,000 barrels per year
- Provide information to consumers on where to purchase their products
- Leave a distributor and sign with another, providing certain conditions are met
- Operate up to 5 additional tasting rooms in the state
The sponsorship for the bill, however, was dropped. And with no sponsorship, there’s no bill. In light of all this, an agreement between the Georgia craft beer and liquor industries and the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association was made. The agreement was that the Department of Revenue will issue new rules that will:
- Allow brewers to sell brewery tours at variable prices based on the kind of beer offered.
- Allow special events at breweries and distilleries.
- Allow 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.
- Allow breweries and distilleries to sell food on site.
With this agreement, Georgia brewers are essentially where they were back in July 2015. The agreement still does not allow for any direct sales at breweries, something that only Georgia and Mississippi have prohibited breweries from doing.
Georgia lawmakers plan to kick the can on this one and revisit the matter next year. While Georgia brewers may not have gotten all that they wanted, it is at least something. But don’t expect any backing down from either side. It looks like this debate could go on for a while. If you’re looking to get involved, you can check out the Beer Jobs Bill website or the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild’s website.