If you follow GA beer you have heard by now the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild reluctantly agreed to a deal with the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association. The agreement was put together and heavily pushed by certain GA legislators. There are lots of opinions and statements out there so I figured I might as well chime in. What’s the deal with the deal?
In exchange for not bringing legislation this year to allow GA breweries to SELL a limited amount of beer direct to the consumer (something that is legal in 48 states!), production breweries in GA were given the right to do the following:
- Once again sell brewery tours at variable prices based on the kind of beer offered. (Passed in 2015, GBWA later influenced DOR to take it away. Read this to understand how.)
- Allow special events at breweries and distilleries.
- Let brewers, distilleries and wholesalers use social media to alert the public about where to buy their products or advertise special events.
- Allow third parties to sell tour tickets.
- Let breweries and distilleries sell food on site
So overall for production breweries it’s a little bit of a win. Kind of. We get to do what we were supposed to already do and a couple of other things were added in like food and actually being able to tell our customers where to find our beer. You read that right. The old system would not allow us to mention a promotional event or a location that sold our beer because it was considered to be providing free advertising for a retailer in violation of the three-tier system.
For brewpubs in GA, it gains nothing. Brewpubs have been asking for years for the rights to sell a growler to go. (Heck, under GA’s wacky system a restaurant located beside a brewpub can sell that brewpub’s beer in a growler to go while the brewpub that made it can not. What kind of sense does that make?) So brewpubs gain nothing from this agreement and I argue that it can be considered a loss because the legislators knowing a “beer compromise” was reached may be unwilling to help brewpubs during this session.
So why did the Brewers Guild take the deal? The options were to introduce a bill that had NO chance of passing and lose the opportunity to get back some rights we had last year or not introduce the bill (did it being an election year have anything to do with this?) and get the ability to do the items listed above. To be clear, many in the Guild were opposed to any type of a deal. But there was really no choice.
What are your thoughts?