Senate Study Committee Still Doesn’t Understand Beer After “Studying”

Yep, I’ve got another beer post again. It’s a hobby (I’m a home brewer and a member of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild) so there will undoubtedly be more over the course of session. This one however is more about how a Senate Study Committee failed to gain any grasp of beer after studying the subject in the off season.

Senate Bill 174 and House Bill 314 are both good bills that move Georgia in the right direction in terms of our antiquated beer laws. These bills would allow an individual to go to a brewpub (a restaurant that is also brews their own beer) and buy fresh beer for off premises consumption. Usually one buys these in things called growlers that are generally 32 or 64 ounces. If you don’t know what a growler is, imagine one of those glass whiskey jugs from old cartoons.

I learned from my grandfather at a young age that beer is always better on draft, which I later confirmed when I got into beer (there are a few exceptions but I digress). The beer is fresher, there is less likelihood of it being light struck or skunked, and the wonderful effervescence of carbonation is generally just the way it is supposed to be. If you are a fan of a brewpub that doesn’t bottle or can their beer, then it is generally impossible for you to be able to enjoy that beverage at home.

Being able to go to the source of the beer and buy a fresh growler of beer is a great way to support a local brewer. Being able to take that fresh beer home and enjoy it in your favorite chair as you watch a football game is a wonderful experience. However we can’t do that in Georgia, and with the Study Committee’s recommendations, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to anytime soon.

Let’s break them down.

  • Retail locations should be allowed to engage in tastings of malt beverage and wine on licensed premises as permitted by local ordinance or resolution. This will not apply to distilled spirits.

Not bad, I still don’t get why we treat beer and wine differently from spirits, but this is on the right track. Tastings are fun, and a great way to try new beer. Tastings with the brewer will teach you all sorts of things about that particular beer.

  • Growlers up to 64 ounces per-person should be allowed to be sold by brewpubs for off- premises consumption if food was consumed on-premises with the purchase; this is somewhat similar to Senate Bill 55 (2008) known as “Merlot-to-go.” Specifically: one partially consumed growler per patron may be removed from brewpub premises so long as:
    • 1. The growler contains malt beverages manufactured on the premises;
    • 2. The patron purchased and consumed a meal on the premises and consumed a portion of the growler containing 64 ounces of malt beverages manufactured on the premises;
    • 3. The partially consumed growler is capped by the patron and placed by the licensee or its employees in a bag or container that is secured in such a manner that it is visibly apparent if the bag or container has been subsequently opened or tampered with, and a dated receipt for the growler and meal shall be provided by the licensee and attached to the bag or container; and
    • 4. If transported in a motor vehicle, the bag or container with the capped growler is placed in a locked glove compartment, a locked trunk, or the area behind the last upright seat of a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk.

Oh boy, this is where they didn’t learn anything. The whole point of getting a full growler is so that the beer is fresh off the keg, it doesn’t oxidize, and it continues to be carbonated until you get home to enjoy it. Generally a growler will retain all of these features for a couple of days when it is full and oxygen has not been introduced. Requiring a patron to drink a portion of the growler at the pub introduces excess oxygen, allows for more of the carbon dioxide or nitrogen (depends on the beer) dissolved in the beer to be released causing the beer to go flat, and will not keep the beer fresh for longer than a few hours.

Also, why do we need to bring a bag into this whole thing? What’s wrong with the current practice at any growler shop of plastic wrap and a heat gun? Or a few wraps of electrical tape like in South Carolina? There’s no need for a completely sealed container to hold a sealed container.

Finally the location for transport. I don’t know of many glove compartments that would be able to hold a 64 oz glass jug. The trunk or the back of my jeep is also not an ideal place to put a growler. It’s going to roll around and cause the beer to go flatter quicker. I prefer the back seat with a seat belt or one of these with a seat belt. I like my fresh beer to last and I take care to ensure that it does. If the growler is already mandated to be sealed, then it doesn’t need be treated like an open container and placed in the trunk.

After the committee spent the offseason “studying” beer, it would appear that we haven’t moved forward to opening the growler market for consumers that want to show their loyalty to a local business. Instead it would appear they spent their time debating tastes great and less filling.



  1. Dash Riptide says:

    The Sunday sales foes didn’t just crawl into a cave and die, you know. There will never be the same critical mass of support for a brewpub carryout bill that there was for Sunday sales. It ought to be a thing (because, America), but it won’t be anytime soon (because, Georgia).

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