You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Legislation would allow Georgia brewers to sell direct to consumers

Legislation filed in the state Senate on Thursday would clear the way for direct sales of beer at Georgia’s craft breweries and brew pubs.

Senate Bill 85, sponsored by state Sen. Rick Jeffares, R-McDonough, represents a compromise between the brewers and the state’s beer wholesalers who for years have fought to protect their position as middleman between beer manufacturers and retailers.

All sides declared victory.

The bill would allow a consumer to buy up to a case a day directly from a brewery to take home and to buy a beer to drink on site. Brew pubs would also be allowed to sell beer to customers to take home. Finally, the bill would end the complicated tour system lawmakers adopted in 2015, which allowed brewers to give away their beer to anyone who paid to take a brewery tour.

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 breweries and brew pubs, continuing a consistent trend of growth.

The bill, should it become law, would represent one of the largest chinks in the armor that is the state’s three-tier system of alcohol sales. Under a law passed after Prohibition, alcohol manufacturers may only sell their products to wholesalers who then sell to retailers who then sell to the public.

Wholesalers have fought for years to protect that system. SB 85 would protect the overall system while providing a carve-out for these small breweries.

“Craft beer isn’t just an alcohol industry fad,” said Taylor Lamm, a co-owner and master brewer at Oconee Brewing Co. in Greensboro. “A brewery has a substantial economic impact on a community. We estimate that 23,000 visitors will come to downtown Greensboro and through our doors in the first year. Our success will create local jobs. And a value can’t be put on ‘made in my town’ pride!”

Nancy Palmer, the executive director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, and Martin Smith, the executive director of the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association, praised lawmakers in both the House and Senate for their work in reaching a compromise.

“They understand the tremendous benefit this industry has on the local and state economy and are working with us to ensure Georgia remains a great state to brew beer,” Smith said.

Palmer said Smith and the wholesalers’ support has been “crucial in this process,” and she said lawmakers’ “commitment to supporting the small businesses of Georgia shines through in SB 85.”

A separate measure, House Bill 60, to allow direct sales at liquor distilleries was filed earlier this year.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Politics

Trump administration could begin enforcing travel ban Thursday
Trump administration could begin enforcing travel ban Thursday

The Trump administration is scrambling to figure out how it will begin enforcing its travel ban in Georgia and across the nation perhaps as soon as Thursday, though many important questions remain unanswered about it. Hoping to prevent the sorts of chaos and confusion that followed the government’s first travel ban in January, Atlanta-area advocates...
Georgia saves up to $56 million booting ineligibles from health plan
Georgia saves up to $56 million booting ineligibles from health plan

Georgia’s massive health care plan that covers teachers, state employees, retirees and their dependents is hoping to save big money by kicking ineligible Georgians off the rolls. Department of Community Health officials audited employees and dependents on the plan, which covers 640,000 Georgians. It found that almost 16,000 dependents...
Lacking enough support, Senate GOP delays health care vote
Lacking enough support, Senate GOP delays health care vote

Senate Republican leaders hit the brakes on their proposal to overhaul the health care system Tuesday, throwing into doubt the fate of the party’s central campaign promise and injecting a major dose of uncertainty into an industry that encompasses one-sixth of the nation’s economy. The move, which came in the face of mounting dissent from...
More data seized from NSA leak suspect in Georgia
More data seized from NSA leak suspect in Georgia

Authorities have gathered additional classified information in the National Security Agency leak investigation here beyond what the suspect is accused of revealing to the news media about Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election system, according to federal prosecutors. Without identifying the information or saying where they got it, the prosecutors...
Appellate court rules against Oxendine, keeps ethics complaint alive
Appellate court rules against Oxendine, keeps ethics complaint alive

Former Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine lost another round in his court fight to have accusations dismissed over his handling of campaign money during his failed 2010 bid for governor. A Superior Court judge last year rejected Oxendine’s bid seeking dismissal of the state ethics commission complaint and ruled that the ethics panel...
More Stories