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Local breweries prepare for beer bill to go into effect

New law will permit direct sales to patrons



NORTH FULTON, Ga. — The state’s beer laws will get a much appreciated update for beer lovers Sept. 1 when Senate Bill 85 goes into effect. The law allows breweries to sell directly to customers, up to a case per person per day.

The new law also permits on-site consumption of beer without requiring visitors to purchase a tour of the facility.

Under the previous law, brewery visitors were required to pay for a tour and were then allowed to sample a limited amount of offerings. Direct sales were prohibited.

In Alpharetta, Jekyll Brewing’s taproom and events manager Tyler Zari said the new regulations will make visiting breweries far more appealing.

“[The tour law] has been a huge barrier to getting people into the taproom,” he said. “Customers had to go through leaps and bounds just to get into the brewery.”

Zari said the Alpharetta brewery is “thrilled” about the new law, which played into their decision to expand their taproom. The renovation includes 16 taps, a new bar and a coffee roaster with multiple coffee offerings in addition to beer. The renovation should be complete by the time the law goes into effect.

Not only will local patrons benefit from the new laws, out-of-state visitors will no longer need a primer of the state’s beer laws before entering the brewery, Zari said.

“Once people get used to not having to take a tour, people will be more inclined to visit the taproom,” he said.

Expecting an increase in visitors when the law takes effect, Jekyll will be offering more brews, events and parties. Regulation now permit breweries to sell up to 3,000 barrels per year, about 41,000 cases.

“We’re brewing a lot of new beers to be poured in the taproom that people can’t get anywhere else,” Zari said.

To kick off the new regulations, Jekyll will be offering new selections starting Sept. 1.

Roswell’s Abbey of the Holy Goats will also ring in the new law with a new brew, their first to be exclusively released in the taproom.

The brewery will also expand its hours open to the public and will donate a percentage of its proceeds from Sept. 1 to the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild.

One local brewery, Cumming’s Cherry Street, won’t be directly affected by the new law.

Cherry Street is a brewpub coupled with Rick Tanner’s Grille and Bar. The brewery has been able to sell “to-go” bottles and growlers since SB 63 took effect in June of 2015.

However, the brewery will still be celebrating the new law with an event releasing barrel-aged beers for the first time in “crowlers,” 32-ounce cans, a day before the new law takes effect.

Though SB 85 won’t alter operations at Cherry Street, owner Nick Tanner still called the new regulations “monumental” for Georgia’s craft brewing industry.

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