Red and Black

The Georgia Department of Revenue announced April 4 that the state may amend current regulations that are currently placed on Georgia’s craft beer industry.

These new regulations would allow breweries to sell facility tours at different prices based on the quality and amount of beer customers receive as “free souvenirs,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Georgia Department of Revenue must hear public comments for 30 days and is set to consider the amendment on May 6.

This proposed change will expand on Senate Bill 63, known as the “Beer Jobs Bill,” which went into effect as law on July 1, 2015.

The bill provided breweries with a backdoor method of selling beer to customers by allowing them to facilitate tours and provide beer to sample. The legislation also allowed brewers to provide customers with up to 72 ounces of beer to take home with the purchase of a tour.

Many breweries strongly supported the passage of the bill. In a previous Red & Black article about the Georgia craft beer industry, before the passage of Senate Bill 63, Carmen Miranda-Fermin, then the tour and events manager at Terrapin Beer Co. in Athens, commented on the relationship between breweries and Georgia legislature.

“We’re the only state in the Southeast where breweries can’t sell a pint of beer at their brewery or a six-pack to go,” she said. “When you think about it, if Alabama is more progressive than you, then you’re lagging behind.”

The senate bill was seen as a response to breweries’ discontent; however, even after the bill’s passing there has been continued conflict between the Georgia Department of Revenue and the craft beer industry. Much of this conflict is due to an almost year-long fight in which the Department of Revenue attempted to tighten restrictions on breweries, even after the passage of the bill.

In September 2015, months after the bill enacting, the Department of Revenue revised the bill by issuing a bulletin, which tightened restrictions on the tours they had previously allowed craft breweries to provide. While tours are still allowed as a backdoor method of selling beer to customers, breweries were not allowed to set prices based on the quality of the beer.

After the Department of Revenue backtracked on its original agreement, breweries publicly objected to the restrictions. Georgia House Speaker David Ralston spoke in favor of the breweries in December and threatened that if the Department of Revenue did not comply with the agreement made in Senate Bill 63, that the Georgia legislature would intervene.

Compromises between breweries and state leaders quickly followed and breweries were granted permission to sell food in addition to their beverages.

Now, the Department of Revenue’s new proposals would essentially reverse the bulletin that was released in September.