Senate Bill 85, which if signed into law will allow this state’s drinkers to purchase beer directly from local breweries, was passed by State Senators last month and now has been approved by the Georgia House of Representatives. But instead of heading straight to Governor Nathan Deal’s desk, the bill is going back to the Senate. That’s because members of the House added language that will update state law for distilleries too.
State representatives voted 147-14 to pass a substitute bill on Monday. The updated version allows licensed distilleries in Georgia to sell up to 500 barrels of distilled spirits per year for consumption on or off premises. If SB 85 garners Governor Deal’s signature, thirsty Georgians will be able to visit a distillery and have a drink without the charade of going through a tour of the facilities in exchange for a small sample. Sales for off-premises consumption will be limited to “a maximum of 2,250 milliliters of distilled spirits per consumer per day.” That translates to three 750-milliliter bottles for take-home enjoyment.
New language also specifies that Georgia’s licensed “fruit growers,” who manufacture distilled spirits and fortified wines from perishable fruits grown in the state, will be able to sell their products exclusively through designated wholesalers.
The substitute bill is more in line with previous reports that proposed legislation in 2017 would affect both brewers and distillers. The original bill only covered Georgia’s brewpubs and breweries. In addition to loosening regulations for distilleries, the substitute version maintains that local brewers will be able to sell up to 3,000 barrels of their beer per year directly to customers.
See the substitute bill below.