Much has been written about the trail of tears SB63 — the GA “Beer Jobs Bill” — has had to travel to even get considered by the Georgia Legislature, in a state that stands out for its extraordinarily restrictive three tier alcoholic beverage distribution system. Unfortunately, most miss the point, the new bill will do nothing for jobs and has become a protectionist piece of legislation that bear hugs the status quo and smacks free enterprise in the face.
Imagine a small start-up brewer in GA. The start-up makes small batches of different craft beers and wants to build a following and a product base. They don’t make enough product to rely on others to collect and distribute their product across any meaningful market so they touch their customers the old fashioned way — face-to-face. Folks come in and visit the brewery or brewpub, buy a tour or a meal and sample the wares on-site. But now what? Aside from personally visiting the storefront there’s no way for a consumer to get more of their product — and there’s no crowd build or revenue build for the brewer because the business model has no headroom. You want our beer? Come tour our brewery (again) or come eat at our brewpub (again).
That’s where the brilliant Beer Jobs Bill came in. Allow consumers to take home small quantities of beer direct from the brewery or brewpub and, over time, this will build new fans, slowly grow revenues to match slowly growing demand, create new jobs, and provide expansion capital — so eventually the production volumes and consumer demand will rise enough to fit GA’s alcoholic beverage control system. And its far from radical — 45 other states have already passed similar legislation.
Sounds simple right? Visit a brewery and you can buy up to 12 beers to take home. Twelve beers too many? OK – how about six?
Nope — can’t happen in GA — because these struggling Nano breweries conceptually threaten the exclusive chokehold Wholesalers/Distributors have on our markets here. (Any wonder Georgia ranks 47th among breweries per capita – 2013 stats brewersassociation.org)?
So after the sausage gets made what you end up with is (a) from a brewpub a single container of no more than 64 ounces to go — BUT only if you opened it at the brewpub and drank some of it first before getting it re-closed (which introduces oxygen effectively shortening the shelf life of the bottle) or (b) from a brewery one “souvenir container” not to exceed 64 ounces purchased only as a part of a tour.
Folks this is now window dressing and creates no new jobs. Is it better than nothing? — yes but just barely.
The shame here is that a Beer Jobs Bill got turned into a Status Quo Protection Bill ensuring brewing start-ups in GA remain small and struggle for growth while the big Wholesalers and Distributors (not to mention the giant Brewers) aren’t threatened by these pesky start-ups.
Meanwhile Georgia legislatures’ seem content to celebrate this great deed and pretend to support free enterprise.
What a disappointment. Sausage anyone?