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Georgia Beer Jobs Bill Threatened [UPDATED]

Of the 50 states with craft breweries, Georgia is one of five that does not allow the brewery to sell directly to the public. You can sell a glass to the public, but the beer is technically free, and very limited.  That also means the breweries cannot sell bottles or growlers at the brewery either.

Hoping to grow the craft brewery industry and create jobs in Georgia, the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild officially introduced SB 63, aka The Beer Jobs Bill. Senator Hunter Hill is one of 18 senators sponsoring the bill, aimed at eliminating the competitive disadvantage that the craft breweries of Georgia face.

What the bill will do.

The Beer Jobs Bill will allow breweries to sell pints of beer to the public in an amount not to exceed 72 ounces per person, per day and to sell no more than 144 ounces of packaged beer to-go per person, per day.  Additionally,  SB 63 will allow brewpubs to sell beer to-go with the same quantity limitations as breweries.

Nancy Palmer, Executive Director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild believes that passage of the bill will bring breweries and tourism to Georgia. Ultimately, this change could result in an economic impact of over 1 billion dollars – a 50% increase over current levels. Direct sales are a life blood to small business like craft breweries. This would open the door for breweries to sell special bottle releases, or hold bottle release events like Hellshire Day, Dark Lord Day, Hunahpu Day, etc. Wineries in Georgia are already afforded the right to sell by the glass and bottle on site.

The Opposition

Beer Wholesalers (beer distributors) want to keep the three-tier system intact. This means the breweries have to sell the beer to distributors. No tap room sales. No tap room bottle sales. No disruption to the system.

The state’s craft breweries, and their loyal brethren are alive on social media today with the news that Lt. Governor Casey Cagle is potentially positioning to prevent the bill from even being heard on the floor, according to the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild. If you just follow the money, that would make sense.

For his last campaign, Cagle received $130,756.57 from the alcohol industry. A vast majority of that total are from opponents of the legislation. Some of his highest contributors include the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Georgia, Anheuser-Busch, and the Leeburn Family (owners of Georgia Crown Distributing).

How This Shakes Out.

The breweries want to level the playing field with the passage of SB 63, aligning with the 45 other states that allow direct sales. Beer is a volume game, and the extra direct sales would help craft breweries stay competitive. Seemingly, an overwhelming majority of Georgians want the freedom to buy their beer at the source. Lt. Casey Cagle, and his financial backers aim to prevent the bill from going to a vote. A vote that will surely pass.

For those looking to take action:

Phone: Casey Cagle 404-656-5030
Email: Casey Cagle [email protected]
Twitter: @CaseyCagle

UPDATE 3/4/15: The craft breweries of the state are poised to hire more employees with passage of SB 63. A vote is scheduled for Thursday, March 5th in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. The bill must win this vote to have a chance of passing. The senators involved in the vote are below, for those wishing to express an opinion.

Senator Rick Jeffares

[email protected]

(404) 463-1376

 

Senator Frank Ginn (co-signer)

[email protected]

(404) 656-4700

 

Senator Josh McKoon

[email protected]

(404) 463-3931

 

Senator Ed Harbison

[email protected]

(404) 656-0074

 

Senator David Shafer

[email protected]

(404) 656-0048

 

Senator Renee Unterman

[email protected]

(404) 463-1368

 

Senator Brandon Beach (co-signer)

[email protected]

(404) 463-1378

 

Senator Bill Cowsert

[email protected]

(404) 463-1366

 

Senator Steve Gooch (co-signer)

[email protected]

(404) 656-9221

 

Senator Steve Henson

[email protected]

(404) 656-0085

 

Senator Jack Hill

[email protected]

(404) 656-5038

 

Senator David Lucas

[email protected]

(404) 656-5035

 

Senator Butch Miller

[email protected]

(404) 656-7454

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