MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT)- Georgia is one the few states in the country where it’s illegal to buy beer at a brewery. Breweries are educational tours and give beer as a souvenir. but it’s just not enough. Especially for breweries like Macon Beer Company.
Owner of Macon Beer Company, Jeremy Knowles is losing customers at his brewery.
“By the time I get done explaining what the laws are and why I can’t just sell them a pint of beer, they’ve already decided, ‘uh, let’s just get back on the interstate’,” Knowles said. “We’ve recently cut back on our tasting tours.”
He has to go through distributors in order to sell his beer, rather than having the option of selling it at his brewery.
“In Georgia we’re kind of forced to go through the distribution end first,” Knowles said. “You’re out having to fight competitors and things like that where it’s a lot easier to start your business by inviting them into your home.”
People want this to change.
Nancy Palmer, Executive Director of Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, spoke at the Macon-Bibb County Hometown Connection meeting in front of local and regional legislators.
“Breweries in another state are on average 2.5 more times more profitable than breweries in Georgia,” Palmer said.
Many states surrounding Georgia are allowed to sell beer on site.
“Those guys are growing faster, they’re hiring sales reps, they’re coming into Georgia,” Palmer said. “They’re taking tabs and they’re kind of pushing around the home grown breweries cause they have the money to do it.”
If this beer laws changed, they’d not only benefit craft beer companies, but the city as well. Mayor Robert Reichert believes that it will urbanize Macon.
“It could be a fascinating tourist attraction, as well as unique place to go and perhaps they would tie that in with food and something to go with the beer,” Mayor Reichert said.
“It’s great that people are talking about it and it seems like the Macon community and leadership is behind growth and the brewing industries,” Knowles said.
The law changing could also bring more jobs to Georgia. For now, breweries in Georgia will have to wait until the legislative session is held in January.
The Hometown Connections meeting also discussed a possible rail corridor that would run from Atlanta to Macon. There are no set plans yet.