Settling is in quotes for a reason. After getting royally screwed by a confusing and rather silly piece of legislation last year, craft brewers in Georgia were screwed far worse when the state Department of Revenue issued new guidelines late last year that effectively rendered the new law moot.
The issue at hand? Whether breweries can directly sell beer to customers, eschewing the ironclad three-tier system that’s run Georgia since the repeal of prohibition in the 1930s. Rather than direct sales to customers, allowed in 46 other states, the legislation passed last year required brewers to sell tours at varying prices. “Tours” would include a small amount of beer to drink on premises and up to 72 ounces to take home. However, the Dept. of Revenue put the kibosh on that when they issued new rules last year, telling brewers they couldn’t have variable prices for tours. One set price. Anything else was against the law.
Brewers were rightfully outraged and this year, the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild threatened to file new legislation that could upend Georgia’s three-tier system and possibly allow direct sales to customers. Distributors were furious, legislators were likely nervous they would lose hefty campaign contributions from distributors if they supported such legislation, and therefore a compromise was worked out. Brewers could once again go back to the strange tour system set up in last year’s SB 63.
Hardly a victory.