Senate passes craft brewer bill

[private]The Georgia Senate passed legislation Friday (SB 63) that would allow craft brewers to provide a limited amount of beer to customers who take a guided tour of the facilities and authorize brew pubs to make small package sales of beer as well.

Senators voted 51-5 to pass the bill, which now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The legislation leaves largely intact Georgia’s three-tier system of making, distributing and selling beer, which tightly controls the alcoholic beverage industry and prohibits brewers from making retail sales of their products.

“Georgia is currently one of five states in the country that does not allow brewers to sell their product directly to the customer,” said Sen. Hunter Hill (r-Atlanta), the bill’s sponsor. “All of our surrounding states allow it. We’re currently behind even Alabama.”

“I think the whole three-tier system, frankly, needs some work,” said Sen. Tommie Williams (R-Lyons). “Sometimes, changes have to occur incrementally.”

Under SB 63, brew pubs could sell a customer a “growler” containing up to 64 ounces of beer for consumption off the premises. Craft breweries could provide people who take a guided tour of the facility with a “souvenir container” with up to 64 ounces of beer at the tour’s end.

“What are we here for, if not to help small businesses in our communities?” Hill asked. “As politicians, we often get accused of helping only big business. Sometimes that’s true.”

© 2015 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: brew pubs , craft brewers , Hunter Hill , package sales , Tommie Williams