Where Things Stand Now

Gov. Deal has signed SB 85 into law!

What’s Next?

The Georgia Department of Revenue will write regulations for the implementation of the bill.  This is a big change and will impact the way taxes are reported and collected, because of this the DoR will need additional time to get prepared and the law will go into effect Sept. 1st.

Just the Highlights

TL;DR: SB85 would allow direct sales at Georgia breweries and distilleries for both on-site consumption and to go.

  • SB85 strikes the language (enacted by SB63 in 2015) requiring tours, free samples, and free souvenirs
  • It allows breweries and distilleries to sell directly to the consumer for on-premise consumption and to go.
  • There is no daily volume limit for on-site sales
  • Breweries are limited to 288 oz per day (24pk/case of 12 oz cans/bottles), per person for to-go sales and a total combined (on-site and to go) limit of 3,000 barrels annually
  • Distilleries are limited to 2,250 ml per day (3x 750ml/fifth bottles), per person for to-go sales and a total combined (on-site and to go) limit of 500 barrels annually
  • The bill also clarifies language for brewpubs on the ability to do package sales, pending local approval

Updates

  • 01/30/17: SB85 has received a “do pass” recommendation from the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.
  • 01/31/17: The bill received one NO vote in the Regulated Industries Committee from Sen. Mullis (R 53 – Chickamauga).  At the request of the DoR the effective date of the bill, if passed, was moved to Sept. 1, 2017.  We’re told this is nothing to be concerned about as a change of this magnitude would require significant work/changes to reporting and collection from the DoR.  They had originally requested Jan. 1, 2018 as an effective date but agreed to the Sept. 1 date.
  • 02/01/17: SB85 has cleared the Rules Committee and is on the Senate calendar for a vote tomorrow.
  • 02/02/17: SB85 has passed the Georgia Senate with a vote of 49-2.
  • 02/07/17: SB85 was read in the House today and assigned to the House Regulated Industries Committee.  The next step is for the Committee to add it to their calendar.
  • 02/09/17: The House Alcohol & Tobacco Subcommittee heard SB85 today and the bill passed unanimously, it will be heard by the full Regulated Industries Committee on Tuesday, 02/14.
  • 02/14/17: House Regulated Industries Committee passes SB 85 unanimously.  Distilleries added to the bill with a 500 barrel annual limit and 3 bottles/person/day to go limit.
  • 03/10/17: According to  Nancy Palmer, SB 85 will come to the House for a vote on Monday (3/13/17). After it passes the house, it should move quickly through the senate for an agree/disagree.
  • 03/13/17: SB85 passes Georgia House with a vote of 147-14.  The bill now has to be accepted by the Senate, no opposition is expected.
  • 03/21/17: SB85 passes the Senate with a vote of 52-1!  Now on to the governor for a signature!
  • 05/06/17: Gov. Deal is scheduled to sign SB85 on Monday, 05/08/17.
  • 05/08/17: The governor has signed SB85 into law!  Come September 1st Georgia’s breweries and distilleries will be allowed to sell directly to consumers.

Below is our original post on SB85 at the beginning of the legislative session.

2017 Georgia Beer Bill SB 85

Georgia General Assembly info page for SB85

Via Press Release:

Georgia Craft Brewers Guild and Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association Find Common Ground

Atlanta, Georgia – The 2017 General Assembly of Georgia will consider legislation to allow consumers to purchase beer directly at the brewery that makes it.

Senator Rick Jeffares (R – McDonough), chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee, introduced Senate Bill 85, which will allow breweries to sell up to 3,000 barrels of the beer they manufacture to consumers visiting the brewery.  If passed, consumers will be able to enjoy fresh beer by the glass, take up to one case to go, and purchase food without the tour package that is currently required. Furthermore, the bill slightly modifies the brewpub license to reinforce local control on issues of to-go sales from brewpubs.

Throughout the summer and fall of 2016 business leaders from craft breweries and their wholesale partners met to discuss common sense updates to benefit the beer industry in Georgia. “With suggestions championed by both brewers and wholesalers, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), House Regulated Industries Committee Chairman Howard Maxwell (R- Dallas), and Senator Jeffares have provided guidance to create this legislation. Their commitment to supporting the small businesses of Georgia shines through in SB 85,” said Nancy Palmer, Executive Director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild.  According to Palmer the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association is also due credit, “The business leaders of the GBWA have been crucial in this process.”

“I applaud the industries for coming together and agreeing to an innovative solution,” commented Lt. Governor Cagle.   “The shared interest of supporting our emerging small business and creating more opportunities for Georgians is clearly reflected in this legislation.”

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 new breweries and brewpubs continuing a consistent trend of growth.

What would this mean for Georgia’s breweries?

A lot.  A whole lot.  3,000 barrels is a lot of beer – like 744,000 pints or 165,000 six packs.  If you prefer large format we’re talking 469,000 750s or 541,000 22 oz bombers.

This would also enable more small breweries to open.  Under current law it is very expensive to open in a way that is profitable, brewers make pennies on the dollar for all beer sold via their distributor.  Being able to sell a percentage at the brewery would allow small breweries to open and control their product growth while still being able to generate a consistent revenue stream.  Which in turn would allow them to expand and get more beer into the market, including through their distribution partners.

Many of our existing small breweries struggle to become and remain profitable.  There’s a catch-22 of hitting a point where you need to make more beer but are not profitable enough to purchase the expensive equipment it takes to do that without outside investment.  With direct sales breweries would see more money in their pockets, which would allow growth and expansion without taking on too much financial burden, or diluting profitability via outside investors.

There is no timeline for a vote or an effective date on the bill at this time.

Contact Your Legislators

Find your Legislators

As this moves through the process it is always a good idea to let your elected officials know that you’d like their support on SB85.  The bill seems to have a lot of support but reminders from constituents never hurt.

This is especially helpful if your legislator voted against SB63 in 2015.  You can see how your legislators voted here: Senate – House.