New Laws Could Cripple Georgia’s Breweries for Good

According to CNN Money this week, while Colorado boasts 44 independent breweries, Georgia, with twice the population, has only three, down from eight a decade ago. And new rules governing brewery tours could reduce that number to zero, says Fred Bensch, owner of Sweetwater Brewing in Atlanta, by driving away thirsty crowds and eliminating the brewers’ best marketing tool.”This would totally cripple us,” Bensch says. The dispute has been fermenting since May, when the Georgia Department of Revenue proposed limiting tastings to two ounces per brew. Under pressure, the revenuers raised the limit to 24 ounces, but with stipulations: Breweries can’t serve samples until tours are over, they can’t pour any beer if they charge admission (Sweetwater charges $8), and Sunday tastings are strictly forbidden. DOR spokesman Charles Willey says the rules are for “public safety”, but as any regular tour-goer knows, brewery tours are nothing without the tasting events and eliminating (or restricting those) would hurt the beer-appreciating public far more than it would keep them ‘safe’.

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