Beer jobs bill to create jobs, boost economy and tourism
Inside the Macon Beer Company, President and CEO Jeremy Knowles is barreling his popular “Macon Progress” beer. But you can’t just pop in the brewery for a pint.
“We’re a manufacturer of alcohol, of a product, and for someone to be able to come here and visit, but not be able to leave with something is kind of just absurd really,” Knowles said.
State law prohibits breweries from selling beer directly to customers. Knowles is hoping that will all change with Senate Bill 63.
“Really what it means is we can have a tasting room where you can come in, pay a small fee, and have some tastes of beer,” he said.
The bill passed the Senate Friday 51 to 3. It would allow 36 ounces of beer to be consumed on premise of a brewery during a tour. It would also allow the customer to take home up to 64 ounces of beer in one container, such as a growler or one 12-ounce beer bottle.
This is a water-downed version of the craft brew measure, but Knowles believes this is still a step in the right direction.
“Any change is good change,” Knowles said. “Having the ability to go to a brewery and then leave with something is a big deal.”
If the bill passes, Macon Beer Company plans to hire another full time worker and make Macon a destination spot for beer lovers.
“I think people want to travel around the state and see different breweries,” Knowles said. “I think that’s something that’s attractive to people and I think Macon Beer Company would definitely be a stop.”
Knowles tells 41NBC he could see a 25% boost in revenue if the bill becomes law. He adds the measure will make Georgia more competitive with breweries across the southeast.
“Every state around us, around Georgia, is kicking our butt in the craft beer industry,” he said. “We’re just so regulated that they have a better time making it, they have many more opportunities to make revenue, bring in cash, so they hire more people, they sell more beer, the do a lot of things bigger and better than us.”
Knowles says some distributors have raised concerns about this bill and say they could lose some jobs. 41NBC reached out to several local companies for comment, but we never heard back.
The bill now heads to the Georgia House of Representatives for consideration.