Craft breweries and the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild have a lot to celebrate this week.
Senate Bill 85, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Rick Jeffares, which will allow consumers to purchase beer directly at craft breweries and brewpubs, will be considered this legislative session in Atlanta.
Jeffares, chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee, introduced the bill that proposes allowing breweries to sell up to 3,000 barrels of the beer they manufacture to consumers visiting the brewery.
If approved, consumers will be able to enjoy fresh beer by the glass, take up to one case to go, and purchase food without the tour package that is currently required.
This bill would be a game changer for local breweries such as River Watch Brewery and the soon-to-be-opened Savannah River Brewing Co. here in Augusta.
When news was announced about the proposed senate bill, the River Watch Brewery’s Facebook page was buzzing with excitement.
“Here’s to hoping!” the brewery posted. “Call you legislators and tell you you support this. We’d love to see some real change in beer laws in Georgia.”
In addition to allowing consumers to purchase beer directly from the craft breweries, the bill slightly modifies the brewpub license to reinforce local control on issues of to-go sales from brewpubs.
It is a vast improvement to the law currently on the books, but this proposed legislation didn’t happen overnight.
Throughout the summer and fall of 2016, business leaders from craft breweries and their wholesale partners met to discuss common sense updates to benefit the beer industry in Georgia, according to the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild.
“With suggestions championed by both brewers and wholesalers, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), House Regulated Industries Committee Chairman Howard Maxwell (R- Dallas), and Senator Jeffares have provided guidance to create this legislation. Their commitment to supporting the small businesses of Georgia shines through in SB 85,” Nancy Palmer, executive director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, stated in a recent press release. “The business leaders of the GBWA have been crucial in this process.”
Legislators are also applauding the private businesses for being persistent in attempting to change Georgia law regarding breweries.
“I applaud the industries for coming together and agreeing to an innovative solution,” Lt. Governor Casey Cagle said in a press release. “The shared interest of supporting our emerging small business and creating more opportunities for Georgians is clearly reflected in this legislation.”
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.
Therefore, this year could be a big year for breweries.
So enjoy a nice pint, Augustans, and cross your fingers for the future.
After all, William Shakespeare once wrote, “For a quart of Ale is a dish for a king.”
Don’t like that one?
How about our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, who once said, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”
That quote seems more appropriate these days.
Too political for you?
Well, how about this quote from actor Jack Nicholson, “Beer, it’s the best damn drink in the world.”