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A better way to beer: How a new law is changing the way Georgia breweries operate
A new law passed this year that will drastically change the way Georgia breweries operate. Brewery owners are seeing the beer mug half full.
beer

My cabinet is filled with partial sets of wine and water glasses, survivors from moves and falls and clumsy hands. What takes over most of the shelf space, as many willing themselves to be adults may attest to, are brewery glasses. Each a different flavor, logo, design du jour from whatever they were selling and handing out that happy hour, night or weekend day, they are unmatching while combining to create a complete millennial’s more-than-12-piece china set.


Just a taste of the breweries along the Ga. 400 corridor

Cherry Street Brewing Cooperative & Taproom

• 5817 S. Vickery St., Cumming

• Taproom hours: Tues – Wed: 4-11 p.m.; Thurs: 4 p.m.-midnight; Friday – Sat: noon-midnight; Sun: 12:30-8 p.m.

• Brewery tours: Saturday, 1-4 p.m.; all beers offered on short or full pours or sampler flight; Bottles and growlers for sale.

• www.cherrystreetbrewing.com


Jekyll Brewing

•  2855 Marconi Dr., Alpharetta

•  Hours: Tues – Thurs: 5-8 p.m.; Fri: 4-9 p.m.; Sat: 1-9 p.m.; Sun: 1-4 p.m.

•  What you get: Tour with 36 oz. of samples, souvenir mason jar, 32 oz. crowler to take home, $18

• www.jekyllbrewing.com


Abbey of the Holy Goats Brewery

•  4000 Northfield Way, Suite 800, Roswell

•  Hours: Fri: 5-8 p.m.; Sat: 2-6 p.m.

• What you get: Tour with 36 oz. tasting, $15; Tour with 1-liter growler, $25; Tour with 2-liter growler, $30. All come with souvenir pint glass.

• www.abbeyoftheholygoats.com



I never made a conscious effort to build my glassware to resemble an eclectic restaurant where every piece, from plates to cups to tables and chairs, are different – now a common fad. I do like going to those places. My dining set matches, though.

The stockpile of cups in my cabinet came from the fact that at a brewery in Georgia, the only option is to pay somewhere around $10-$18 for a handful of tickets to “exchange for free samples during a brewery tour.” If someone visits and we go, often they don’t want to carry glass home. And my set grows.

I’ve fulfilled enough tickets at Sweetwater Brewing Company in Atlanta to where I no longer bring my souvenir glass home. I never have gone on that tour.

It’s a loophole that breweries that are sans accompanying restaurants have to follow to sell cold ones on-site. No bringing beer home. Drink all your tickets, or you get less for your buck.

Soon, no longer.

Starting this September, that six-pack can be finished at home, at your pace. Or you can pay for one drink, hold the tour.

With the passing of Senate Bill 85 in the Georgia General Assembly this March, direct sales will be allowed at breweries for both on-premises consumption and to go.

“Today, Georgia is the last state where you cannot walk into a brewery and physically buy a beer,” said Nick Tanner, co-owner of Cherry Street Brewing Cooperative in Cumming.

The new law won’t affect brewpubs like Cherry Street, which are associated with restaurants (Rick Tanner’s Grille) for revenue and therefore could already sell their own beer on site.

Local ordinances have also been popping up – like in Forsyth County – that allow brewpubs to sell to-go growlers on-site.

“It will level the playing field for breweries to be more like restaurants and bars, which is a good thing. It will help Georgia beer tourism, which is lacking at the moment,” Tanner said. “It’s going to increase tourism and increase quality.”

Gov. Nathan Deal still has to sign SB85. As of mid-April, he hadn’t, but he is expected to. Once that happens, the Georgia Department of Revenue has to write regulations for the new law’s implementation. That’s why the effective date is September, not the typical July 1 – the law will change the way taxes are collected and reported, so they’re taking a little more time.

In the meantime, there are plenty of breweries still operating on their normal limited-schedule tours – there are 45 listed as members of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild – as well as festivals and events ready to be tapped.