Imagine for a moment that you are a local craft beer lover.
And it just so happens that your favorite brew is 5 Seasons Brewery’s Hopgasm IPA. Whenever you stretch out on your couch at the end of a long day, all you want to help you relax is a mouthful of your favorite, local, hoppy brew. You saunter to the fridge, smacking your lips, swing open the door and…realize that under current Georgia law, you aren’t allowed to keep any Hopgasm at your home. Because they aren’t allowed to let you leave their building with it. If you want a pint, you have to drive to the brewpub and consume it on premises.
Well, last week Georgia House Representatives Tom Taylor and Ron Stephens introduced HB 314 which may change that bummer of a situation.
For those that aren’t familiar with the term, since the end of Prohibition the majority of U.S. states – including Georgia – elected to enact a three-tier system of alcohol distribution. It separates producers, distributors, and retailers from one another, enacting a trickle down system where the alcohol flows from the brewer/distiller/winemaker down to the distributor, then to the retail shops, and finally into our mouths. This, theoretically, would help regulate the reinstated right to imbibe and prevent our headfirst dive back into the booze-fueled bedlam that led to its ban in the first place.
What HB 314 proposes is to “change the definition of ‘brewpub’; to provide for limited retail sales by brewers of malt beverages manufactured on their premises for off-premises consumption..”
What does that mean for you? This means that local brewpubs like 5 Seasons, Twain’s, and Wrecking Bar would be able to pour you a pint to enjoy at the bar while they pack up your daily take-home limit of 288 oz. (or 24x 12oz bottles…or 4x 64oz growlers and a 32oz growlette).
Because the 21st Amendment left the power to regulate alcohol sales to the states, combined with the freight train of craft brewing and local brewpubs, many states are tweaking the rules of the rigid three-tier system. This gives producers the flexibility to cut out the other two middle men and sell direct to you, the beer lover.
While many craft advocates cheer the news that they may soon be able to grab a growler from the brewpub to go, there are dark forces moving against us. Tier’s two and three aren’t too keen on being left out of the party, and are very motivated to see HB 314 and its companion bill SB 174 in the state senate brushed under the rug. Alcohol distribution is big business. The 2 big brewers – SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch InBev – spend lots of money lobbying congress every year to stop the rising tide of craft breweries, or anything that might help smaller breweries gain a better foothold in the market. And HB 314/SB 174 here on the state level is no different.
So, attention beer-nuts! This is your call to arms!
If you believe that local brewpubs should be able to sell their product to the public for consumption off-site, contact your district representative in the Georgia House or State Senate and let your voice be heard!
Fight the power!
- Jon Watson, Food & More Blog