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A Gutted Beer Jobs Bill Is Up for a Vote Friday

Photo Credit: Porter McLeod

Creature Comforts’ David Stein pours a beer from a tank at the downtown Athens brewery.

Creative Loafing reported last month that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (who received $130,000 in campaign contributions from alcohol distributors in 2014) was working to kill Senate Bill 63, the “Georgia Beer Jobs Bill,” which would have allowed breweries to sell beer directly to the public.

Cagle didn’t kill the bill, but it looks like he’s at least partially gutted it. A version with the direct-sales clause removed is coming up for a vote Friday, the last day of the session for legislation to pass one chamber and move on to the other.

After changes made in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee on Tuesday, the bill would allow breweries to charge for tours where samples are given away (rather than charging for the glass into which the free beer is poured). In addition, they could send growlers filled with beer home with tour-goers.

Craft breweries had argued that the current system is kind of a sham, and direct sales would make it easier for them to survive and expand at a faster pace, encouraging more breweries to open. 

While the bill isn’t what it once was, Athens-based Terrapin Beer Co. posted a statement of support on its website:

While some are less than thrilled with some of the changes made to the original bill, we’re optimistic that SB 63 is a step forward to bringing Georgia’s craft beer industry up to par with states around us. Currently, brewpubs like Copper Creek are prohibited from selling beer to go, but SB 63 would allow brewpubs to sell bottles, cans and growlers of draft beer to consumers.

Assuming the bill passes the Senate on Friday—and it’s rare for a bill to be brought forward only to fail—the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild will get another crack at it in the House.