Georgia’s “Beer Jobs Bill” to go into effect this summer

 

Craft breweries in Georgia will finally be able to sell their products to consumers this summer. Sort of.

Last Tuesday marked an historic moment of progress for Georgia’s local microbrew industry when Governor Nathan Deal signed into law Senate Bill 63, a.k.a. the “Beer Jobs Bill”, which permits the on-site sale of beer to the public by local breweries.

“The craft bill is a very small step for breweries in Georgia,” said local brewery owner Joel Iverson. Iverson is one of the three founders of Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta’s West Midtown neighborhood.

In October 2014, the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild (GCBG) launched GABeerJobs.com in response to what they deemed an, “unfair three-tier system of alcohol distribution”. The site included a petition – with over 14,000 signatures – to amend the law so that local breweries could sell directly to consumers. That petition ultimately became Senate Bill 63.

Previously, factory-direct sales to consumers were prohibited by Georgia’s three-tier system of alcohol distribution, a sort of “checks and balances” system set up after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, to prevent the establishment of monopolies.

“While we still won’t be selling beer technically we will at least be able to generate revenue from selling the tour and including the beer for taking home would help grow market awareness for the brand,” said Iverson.

According to NABCA Research, the three-tier system is a linear, one-way distribution model that moves product from producer to consumer, by way of two “middle men”, the wholesale distributor and retailer, respectively.

         Producer (Brewery) —> Wholesale Distributor —> Retailer —> Consumer

The Brewers Association believes the three-tier system is bad for small breweries because, “not all beers have adequate sales levels to find distribution on retailers’ shelves or wholesalers’ warehouses.”

In other words, microbreweries simply can’t afford to sell their products at the deeply discounted rate demanded by distributers, if they ever wish to break even – let alone turn a profit.

“We’re one of only 4 states left where a brewery can’t sell beer to consumers and that makes it pretty tough to make a profit – especially in the startup stages,” Iverson explained. With no desire to take Monday Night Brewing nationwide, the recent Georgia legislation will have a significant impact on Iverson’s business.

Iverson sees the bill as far from ideal, but believes “it will be an important step in helping our breweries generate sales, tourism, and build their brands.”

 

 

 

 

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