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Georgia breweries could soon be able to sell directly to their customers. That’s thanks to a new bill passed by the state legislature. And while the bill still needs Governor Deal’s signature, craft breweries around Atlanta are already celebrating.
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On a recent afternoon at Wild Heaven’s brewery near Avondale Estates, the canning machine is in full swing. It takes a big crate of empty yellow cans and sends them, one by one, down a conveyor belt, where four big tubes fill them with beer.
“And then right here at the end is the cool part, where the lid gets seemed onto the top of can,” Wild Heaven president Nick Purdy said. “The can’s wide open as it’s going through, and you can see the lid sliding down and dropping on.”
Currently, Wild Heaven can only sell its cans through a distributor, or as part of a tour. And even then, visitors can only drink up to 32 ounces and can’t bring more than a six pack home.
Purdy said, that’s been frustrating.
“This is emergency drinking beer, our most popular beer,” Purdy said, while pointing to a stack of yellow beer cans. “People want to take home a case of it. And people haven’t been able to do that. And if they come from out of state, they’re just baffled and confused. Not a good look for Georgia.”
Purdy’s relieved that look could change now that state lawmakers passed a bill eliminating the tour restriction, and allowing people to bring home as many as 24 cans.
Before the legislature’s vote, Wild Heaven thought about growing its business in another state.
“When we look at a place Tennessee or North Carolina and see the things that we would be able to do in a facility there, it was getting hard in our mind to justify doing it again in Georgia,” Purdy said. “But now we can.”
He said they plan to open a new location on the western end of the Beltline — right next to where another company, Monday Night Brewing, is expanding. According to the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, new breweries will likely open up too in the wake of the bill’s passage, since it’ll be easier to make money.
If Deal signs the bill, the law would go into effect September. Then, Georgia will be the last state in the country to lift such restrictions on direct sales at breweries.