Drinker's guide to new brewery rules

This week, craft breweries and distilleries are expecting enactment of new rules that will allow visitors to take home beer.  Here’s a guide to what to expect.


Q: Can I buy beer or liquor at a craft brewery or distillery?
A: NO.  It’s still against the law.

Q: But I can walk away from a brewery or distillery with some of their product?
A: Yes. They’ll be allowed to give it to you.

Q: Why would they do that?
A: They can give you product after you’ve purchased a tour. They can charge you for a tour based on how much product you want to take home.

Q: That’s screwy.
A: That’s the compromise that was reached when the legislature passed SB 63 in 2014. Brewers wanted to be able to sell beer directly.  Wholesalers opposed it. The beer-tour exchange is the workaround.

Q: How much beer can you get?
A:  The law caps it at 72 ounces of beer.  A distillery can give you one bottle at 750 ml.

Q:  What about brewpubs?
A:  The rules haven’t changed for brewpubs; however the Georgia Craft Brewery Guild says localities have begun allowing brewpubs to sell to-go beer directly to consumers without state interference.

Q: What about on-site consumption?
A: The new rules allow breweries to provide customers as much as 36 ounces of beer to visitors at no charge.  Distilleries can provide three half-ounce samples to visitors on-site.

Q: Do the new rules address food?
A: They do. The rules now allow brewers to “engage a licensed food service provider” to cater food within breweries. However, the brewery itself can’t be that food provider unless the brewery is a brewpub.

Q: What else?
A: The new rules allow brewers to tell people on social media where they can purchase beer.  Previously, the law forbade brewers from telling potential customers which retailers carry their product.

Q: Wait – the rules disallowed brewers from telling customers where to buy their product?A: They did. That changed.

Q: Will brewers ever be able to sell beer directly to the public?
A: If the legislature acts, yes. Brewers are expected to try to nudge the law again next year. There are many lawmakers who agree with them.

Q: Why is it so complicated?
A: Georgia lawmakers are convinced the state’s “three-tier system” of alcohol distribution protects consumers. It also protects about a dozen Georgia beer wholesalers, who have powerful lobbyists at the Capitol who make generous campaign contributions to lawmakers.

Did you miss Doug Richards' Facebook Live on the new brew rules? Check it out here, and LIKE his page, so you don't miss the next one. Trust us, they're pretty awesome. 


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