In a potential boon for Gainesville-based Left Nut Brewing Company, a bill proposed in the state Senate would allow craft breweries and brew pubs to sell beer directly to patrons for the first time, ending regulations that required them to distribute through wholesalers.
“We are very hopeful that this new bill will make its way through our state’s legal process and be enacted to change the current, very restrictive laws we have to contend with,” LNB founder Pap Datta said.
The long-standing statute that prohibited brewers from selling direct to customers would be amended to allow LNB and others to sell up to a case of beer each day to patrons, as well as allow on-site sales for consumption.
Datta said the current regulations are “cumbersome to manage, added overhead costs and created confusion among visitors” while also limiting brewery hours.
Georgia is one of the last states in the nation to require patrons to purchase a tour in order to buy beer direct from manufacturers, and business leaders think the proposed change will grow the industry locally.
“Basically, this allows the breweries to not just be limited to selling to wholesalers, and opens up a nice pathway for meaningful, incremental revenue,” Datta said.
The Senate bill would end the requirement to purchase tours that lawmakers OK’d in 2015.
“With the older regulations, every visitor to our tap room would have to purchase a tour, which then entitled them to a souvenir glass and up to 36 ounces of free samples,” Datta said. “This put the burden on the breweries to determine all kinds of tiered tour pricing and menus to enable the visitor to sample beer at the brewery and then take some home.”
Left Nut Brewing Company, located in historic Chicopee Mill, is designed as a destination brewery.
The tap room, which opened in September, has seen increasing numbers of visitors every month, according to Datta.
“Many are from the local, North Georgia area, but increasing numbers of visitors are coming from the metro Atlanta area, others from surrounding states spending the weekend in the Georgia mountains,” Datta said. “And we also get several international travelers who are here with multinational companies and are curious to visit a brewery with our very interesting name.”
The proposed change in regulations would enhance visitors’ overall experience, Datta said, and he expects the state will be able to grow its beer tourism market and add new jobs as a result.
“We expect our tap room to experience a higher volume of business with less overhead to manage,” he added. “The additional income could be used to continue to improve the facility, hold more events, contribute to the community and more readily allow our visitors to take home the beers, so proudly crafted in Gainesville.”