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.