Why Georgia Beer Laws Need Reform

This is going to be a fight in the legislature and it should be. Lobbyists and beer wholesalers, having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy off legislators, have stymied reforms that all but three states have.

The only kickstarter program I have ever funded was the Synek Beer system. Take a look at this:

The system allows you to go to a brewer or craft beer store, fill a type of bio-safe plastic bladder with beer on tap, and it keeps fresh for THIRTY DAYS! So if you are having a party, you can get it filled and serve your friends beer on tap of your choice.

But it is hard to do in Georgia. The bladder is 128 ounces, or two growlers worth.

In Georgia, if you took this to your local brewery, it would be illegal to fill up. It would also, under revenue rulings in Georgia, be illegal for the brewery to tell you the name of a store where you could fill up.

The entire system of beer laws in Georgia is designed to protect incumbent campaign contributions from wholesaler lobbyists. It breeds corruption and stifles innovation.

The Synek System is revolutionary. But there are few places around Georgia to be able to take advantage of it. Meanwhile, states bordering us are thriving.

This should be a very public policy fight in the legislature in 2016. Breweries should be able to sell 128 ounces on premises. It promotes their product without cutting into store purchases. The wholesalers entire argument is that they cannot let a single law change for fear that long term something will happen to them.

I had a law professor who frequently said, “It is only a slippery slope if you slide down it.” We do not have to slide down the slippery slope in letting breweries sell 128oz of beer on premise. The wholesalers, out of fear, are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

It is time for a change and the overreaction of the Department of Revenue at the behest of the wholesale lobby should show the legislature they need to force that change now.

Free the beer in Georgia.

27 comments

  1. Baker says:

    More on point, is there anyone not currently employed by a beer distributor or politician, partially employed by said distributors, who would disagree with this? The medical marijuana polls are running at 84% I believe, this has got to be over 90. Ralston, paging David Ralston.

  2. mondaymorningqb says:

    Erick,

    Thanks for posting. I hope that your brief return is a signal that you and Clayton plan on keeping the site active. It shouldn’t be that hard to cross post some articles until you give a chance to some new writers/reporters to show off their stuff.

    I don’t know the reason for the mass exodus, but I can guess that it’s impetus had something to do with low click rates and the shrinking of the reader participant base. The previous editor, while intelligent, was arrogant and overstepped his bounds which drove people away and alienated even those who agreed with him on a point. As a result, even state political junkies would just check in to read the headlines to see if there was something that would stir up the public and leave soon afterwards. No one with any real sense or information would actively participate unless they had an idea to market or sell from a lobbying/campaign/legislative action perspective.

    If you and Clayton are really interested in continuing the site, open it up like it was before where you let everyone play in a full-on free for all. The main content writers should not be the editors and the editors should have a light touch on what comments should be posted. Let the Trumpers, the Paulites, the Tea Partiers, the Establishment, the Sanderites ALL go for it and, unless it is blatantly criminal or hate speech, let it stand. Georgia is a weird and fun political state (see the past few Republican Presidential nominees and possibly Trump this year), so let its crazy flag fly for the comments while bringing in competent writers. I’m sure there are subject experts, lobbyists, small newspaper writers, etc who would love to get the exposure and throw out the chum for the readers. Heck, you might even get the legislators to come back if they aren’t going to be attacked by the structure of the website (rule of thumb: readers attacking = ok and expected, editors attacking = rude, unneeded).

    P.S. The Craft Beer folks have a good lobbyist now, so it will be interesting to see if the wholesalers are able to keep Georgia on lockdown. I’m sure it will cost the Wine and Beer folks more money to do so.

    • Andrew C. Pope says:

      Please no free for alls. The reason people come here is because the discourse is higher than an AJC comment section.

      • mondaymorningqb says:

        Andrew: The early excitement and interest in Peach Pundit came from the wide swath of political voices that were allowed to participate and state their views in the comments section. Those opinions had to stand up on their merits or would sink by being ignored or defeated by a stronger voice. It sometimes got messy, but there was interest as opposed to the PP of today which became a restricted echo chamber and policy morgue.

        Give me the days of real rumors and passion along with intelligence and I will gladly put up with the problems of a few extra trolls.

        • Andrew C. Pope says:

          Agree to disagree. The old regime seemed to expect that comments would come with some semblance of intellectual backing. If I want a “freer” exchange, I can get that on my Facebook news feed.

          • mondaymorningqb says:

            Andrew: I think a happy medium can be reached. Maybe it is my early onset dementia setting in, but I never thought that the comments during the early days ever devolved into AJC Political Insider -land or did so for long if they did.

            I *do* know that this very conversation that we are having would be shut down less than a few weeks ago for a) threadjacking a serious discussion on craft beer (ho-ho) and b) questioning the temperament and wisdom of the previous editor. The “banhammer” or threat of it would have fallen on me, Shep, and, probably anyone else for not playing by the Marquess of Queensbury rules as interpreted by Lord Icarus.

            After all, this place should be entertaining as well, right? I can go to the legis site and think for myself if I want to read up on the rotten sausage being made.

            Am I wrong to think that

            • mjhicks says:

              I do think that you’re wrong to think that very conversation would have been shut down. In mu time I saw very few conversations shut down and when they were it seemed entirely appropriate to me. I think that you’re grossly overstating the fact that there was heavy handed editorial control.

              Without any knowledge whatsoever, it appears to me that you had a personal beef with the previous admin.

              • mondaymorningqb says:

                No personal beef, just counter programming to the narrative being put out there by some others.

                You are right though that this kind of discussion can be tiresome as well. Let’s be happy that the opportunity exists for change and see what happens.

    • John Konop says:

      Monday,

      In all due respect the comments went down when the blog got hacked, and the format changed. The blog still is not as user friendly as before.I do think in fairness, Charlie did have bloggers from all sides. Not sure if Erick liked the push back….He did take shots at Charlie on his radio show.

      It is obvious Erick, which is his God given right supports the extremist side of the GOP party, who claims everything is on fire at all times. I would not be surprised if Erick tries to tie the blog to his radio show following, which is driven by read meat comments over substance. They tend to want to shout people down rather than have a sincere debate.

      The odd part is I have met Erick a few times. One on one he is actually rather thoughtfull and not at all like his radio personality. Erick has made a lot of money as an entertainer, so if this works at the blog, it is called capitalism. I am sure Charlie will also land on his feet, and will be heard from the blog world. The diference between them is Charlie seems to really wanted to use the venue to solve issues, and bring people together, Erick is all about the side show that drives ratings.

      It is very clear Charlie and his crew did create a venue that helped shape policy for the good of our state. Many great ideas were vetted out on this blog that became policy. That is nothing to sneeze at. All of them should be very proud of what they acomplished!

      • mondaymorningqb says:

        John,

        We will have to agree to disagree. While Charlie’s writing was hit or miss, his role as an editor verged on autocratic which did this site no justice either from a viewership or content point of view. His personality issues were such that it has carried over to the Capitol where many distance themselves from him. The sad thing is that he is not always wrong, so people have to separate the message from the messenger.

        Regarding Erick, Peach Pundit has always been a bit of a specialty site different from Red State or his radio website and not as dependent on getting eyeballs as the others. If it is worth the trouble for Clayton and Erick to revive the declining readership, I have no doubt that they will go back to the looser structure that made it a success in the first place.

        • John Konop says:

          Monday,

          Not sure we are really that far off in our views. One, Charlie successfully made the blog a step above the regular shouting at each other format. Similar to watching Morning Joe vs Fox and CNN. As far as comments once again the blog format change really hurt it ie not helping views. That change was driven by a hack, not anything Charlie did…..

          Erick has also successfully created Red State a read meat blog light on any intelectual debate on issues. A place for like minded people to rant….This format has been very successful as a business, not great for the country. But hey business is business….

          As far as the impact of the blog, it has done a grest job promoting positive policy for the state as you agree. I realize extremist from the right and left may not like it via the lack of red meat spewing.

          As far as Erick and the future, he no longer has the conflict of interest with RedSate. It would make logical business sense he would repeat a successful business model. Obviously, the past blog team that just resigned would conflict with this agenda. None of them did this for money, only agree or not was to try to make a positive difference.

          I know from my connections this blog had a real impact on policy. Not at all saying what Erick did was wrong, just business. If I saw Erick would buy him a drink, and would enjoy the conversation on issues if he had time. The only difference between us is I am looking at from an objective view. BTW, since I am not part of the system easier for my views not to be tainted….

          • DAinGA says:

            I have no idea if readership declined. But for the longest time I stayed away from PP because of Erick’s reputation and I knew he was active with the site. About 12-16 months ago I checked out the site and was surprised to see various POVs. And even the posts I did not agree with were written well and not with the typical name calling and vitriol I have come to expect on political blogs (on both the right and the left). It became one of my daily reads. I especially enjoyed Charlie’s pieces. While I am a Democrat and rarely agreed with what he had to say, I appreciated the way he presented his ideas, which was to put them forward and not merely put those down who held opposing views. If this site goes back to what it once was, then I probably will no longer be an active reader.

  3. shep1975 says:

    I will echo the sentiments above Erick. I hope this is a sign that PP will continue under new management. Let me know if I can be of any assistance again. I’d be happy to now that there has been a change at the top.

  4. JeffD says:

    I don’t know Charlie or Erick. But I have enjoyed this site for years. I will say that I rarely commented because I knew that if I disagreed substantively with Charlie I would be told to shut up or else I was going to be banned from the site. I saw it time and time again where he did that to folks. I too do not want to see this turn into the Ajc blog where folks call each other names and throw mud. But folks can have healthy discussions without fear of being banned. hopefully that’s where this is going.

    Erick, why not just come out and tell your faithful readers what happened, why the exodus occurred and the direction you’re headed. I hope it’s a success.

    • joe says:

      Perhaps it is because I bandied words with Icarus before he became Charlie, but I never experienced Charlie telling me to shut-up. I found Ed particularly aggravating with his narcissistic lead ins to Morning Reads. I have to agree that I would like an explanation from either Erick’s or Clayton;s point of view.

      And while I don’t see Craft Beer as much of an issue, I do have a problem with any government restricting free trade for no reason other than the big money folks want it restricted.

  5. Howard Roark says:

    I miss the photo with all of the political signs that was the mast head from years ago. Great grass roots stuff.

  6. Three Jack says:

    Based on the posts, title of this thread should be, ‘Why Peach Pundit Needs Reform’.

    It is true that Charlie took PP in a different direction from the original founders/editors making it more of a ‘restricted echo chamber and policy morgue’ as one poster put it (not sure I agree with the restricted part but it definitely got into the weeds about policy). But PP needed a big shot of opinion diversification at the time and Charlie succeeded in accomplishing this to the benefit of PP and it’s readers. He opened the front page to all points of view creating a forum for debate with all sides represented. For this he should be commended.

    Did he become more autocratic, sure. Did it cause some to either stop posting or refrain from certain discussions knowing the wrath of Icarus may be cast down upon them, yes. But that was his call as editor and our choice to either leave or take the challenge of posting thoughtful comments instead of mindless rants. Some left, but many were intrigued by the new direction and joined the conversation.

    In the end, I think PP is better because of the direction Charlie took it and will hopefully find it’s legs going forward without him. I’m good with either methodology; wide open rant filled posts or the more intelligent, thoughtful forum it has become lately. I look forward to seeing how this all plays out.

    • mondaymorningqb says:

      Three: I agree with your hope that PP will find it’s sea legs again and become stronger than ever. There is a viable audience for something other than the Saporta Report, Georgia Trend or a bunch of other petrified political hack sites that exist to justify the existence of consultants, lobbyists, or other self-satisfied local dignitaries.

      Charlie’s flaw wasn’t that he brought in new voices, it was because he wants to desperately join the old voices as a local version of David Brooks. In doing so, he sucked out the fun and air of the place. When was the last time PP had some juicy gossip that was close to libelous but untouchable because everyone knew that it was true? That was a unique strength (and community service, thank you) of Peach Pundit that got taken away with the new “respectability”.

      I’ll end this by saying again that there is still a place and a market for Peach Pundit and that entertainment and information are not mutually exclusive concepts. I imagine we will find out sooner rather than later (where is Hassinger? is he hiding in the North DeKalb Fortress of Solitude?).

      • Three Jack says:

        I don’t recall PP being closer to the National Enquirer than a respectable debate and policy site. There was that time when a booklet of rumors was supposedly going to derail Oxendine, but Ox beat the bookholder to it all by himself. Other than that rather humorous event, I don’t remember other instances of near libelous innuendo being a prominent feature of PP.

        • mondaymorningqb says:

          No, it wasn’t the National Enquirer or a right wing Gawker, but the rumors and innuendo mixed with the regular news and policy. See the stuff that involved the House Speakership or Balfour or others. I really think some of the legislators feared what could have been/was posted on the site during the heyday, because unlike say the AJC, PP wasn’t a billion dollar entity being protected by a floor of lawyers or a local political publication more interested in being chummy and earning ad revenue from companies wishing to lobby. Info got out (not all negative) that the powers that be didn’t always want to get out and dirty laundry was sometimes aired. Messy, but more interesting than the boring self-censorship and cheerleading going on until two days ago.

          Look, PP *is* a political site, so it is not going to be full-contact bloodsport, but a little unpredictability and fun is always a good thing. Split the baby in two. Bring on talented writers for the posts, continue providing a morning news summary, and loosen up the chains in the comments.

          • John Konop says:

            Monday,

            In all due respect you keep missing the point is was a volunteer site, with bloggers posting to help promote positive policy, agree or not with them. I find out rather obnoxious you would keep ripping people who like it or not created a site of value. It may not been your cup of tea, but your view is obviously very bias for whatever reason.

            Clayton and Erick have the right to do whatever they want with this site. But spewing BS about volunteers speaks more about you than the people who did the work for peanuts.

            • mondaymorningqb says:

              John:

              Your sentiment is correct. It is fine line between pointing out transgressions and being obnoxious oneself. Let me just say in closing that I’m glad change is afoot and we’ll see what happens.

  7. Noway says:

    One thing is certain: we’ll all be checking out the new site tomorrow, posting if it’s allowed and checking back here, too, to check for signs of life. All is potentially good!

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