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Georgia’s allows taproom beer sales starting Friday, September 1

IMG_4752Since the end of prohibition, liquor laws have been under the control of each individual state. Most states enacted three-tier system laws that separated alcohol producers from retail outlets via a middle man or distributor. But, many states, even though they passed three-tier system laws, left wiggle room for small producers that allowed them to sell their products in self-run tasting rooms. Georgia was not one of those states. Until today, that is.

As Prohibition came to an end, lawmakers wanted a way to prevent the proliferation of “tied houses” or saloons that served beer from only one brewery. Before Prohibition, saloons were extremely competitive. Most areas had several, each tied to a different brewery. To enhance their beer’s prominence, brewers enticed bar owners to pledge fealty to them by providing loans for furniture and bar equipment under the stipulation that the bar only serve their beer. Breweries ran aggressive marketing campaigns and often applied pressure to their tied barkeeps to sell more and more beer. Often the result was overconsumption and drunkenness leading to deteriorating social situations. Add the specter of mob-controlled distribution and speakeasy networks during Prohibition and it was apparent a change had to be made.

The answer, or so the lawmakers of post-Prohibition America thought, was to put in place a three-tier system in which brewers or distillers could not sell directly to consumers or retailers, they could only sell their products to distributors who could then turn around and sell the product to retailers at a marked-up price. Lawmakers saw this as a way to prevent tied-houses and their overpowering influence. What they accomplished in many instances was to simply shift the corruption from overpowering breweries to distributors who forced breweries into distribution contracts that heavily favored the distributor and prevented producers from breaking the contract even if the distributor failed to market a product effectively.

This inequity is what led to a years-long fight for brewer’s rights in Georgia.

As early as 2001, Georgia’s lawmakers were conducting studies to determine the fairness of the three-tier system. In 2013, the subject was again taken up with brewers appearing before a committee to discuss the issues presented by a strict system that forbids them from selling to consumers directly from their breweries.

“This issue,” Said Rick Tanner of Cherry Street Brewing Cooperative to the commission. “Is more about competitive economic development than it is about alcohol distribution systems.”

In the end, the 2013 study simply made the suggestion that brew pubs be allowed to sell growlers of beer as long as it was purchased with a meal consumed at the brew pub and that it was partially consumed before leaving the premises.

Then, again in 2015, the subject was broached in the Georgia senate. The Republican Senator Hunter Hill from Smyrna introduced Senate Bill 63, that allowed breweries to offer “souvenirs” of their products to customers who took a “tour” of their facilities. While the bill fell short of small brewers’ hopes of being allowed to self-distribute in a limited capacity, it opened the door for future reform.

Finally, in February 2017 Senate Bill 85 was proposed. The Bill would allow the state’s licensed breweries to sell up to 288 ounces of beer — equal to 24 12-ounce bottles — to patrons at their taprooms with a direct sales limit of 3,000 barrels per year or about one million bottles.

Eventually, the Bill passed and Georgia’s governor signed it into law. Starting today Georgia’s breweries can now sell beer to their taproom visitors by the pint, bottle, can or even keg.

Across the state, breweries are hosting celebrations to mark the occasion. In Atlanta, SweetWater Brewing is marking the occasion with new tours and full pours for sale, while Red Brick is offering full pours and case sales. In Cobb County, Burnt Hickory is offering case sales of their brews at a special price, while Macon Beer Company in Macon will mark the day with a ceremonial first full pour.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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SweetWater vs. Sam Adams Super Bowl match-up

superbowlWith the Super Bowl just a few days away, the smack is running fast and hard. The New England Patriots will battle the Atlanta Falcons for the ultimate title of Super Bowl LI Champions. But, there is another rivalry brewing between Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company and Boston’s Samuel Adams brewing. 

It began last week when Browns Bridge Exxon Station in Gainesville, a suburb of Atlanta, posted a sign on their beer cooler informing buyers, “We will not be selling any Sam Adams beer until after the Super Bowl!”

The statement was followed by the hashtag #riseup.

To spread the word even further, store manager Viral Chhadua, posted to the store’s Facebook page that they would be promoting local, Atlanta brewery SweetWater.

“We’re promoting your ATLANTA based beer instead,” Chhadua wrote. “So if you guys want to send us to the Super Bowl we wouldn’t hate ya for it.”

The gas station’s ban of Sam Adams went quickly went viral and sparked a good-natured Twitter war between the two breweries. In the end, a wager was struck with the loser agreeing to rename one of their beers to honor the winning team.

 

 

According to a report on WSB-TV 2 in Atlanta, Chhadua says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s been positive from the Falcons’ fans and of course not so friendly from the Boston fans, but they’ve been good sports. They’re laughing at it and enjoying the banter,” he said.

Jim Koch, the CEO and founder of Boston Beer Company, also known as Samuel Adams Brewing Company, took the ribbing in stride.

“We know what it’s like to be superfans of your hometown football team, so there’s no hard feelings,” Koch told the Boston Globe. “This isn’t the first time we’ve been banned before the big game (ahem, four rings), and we hope it won’t be the last. We’ll be toasting our hometown team with Sam Adams alongside New England fans everywhere.”

Who will come out on top and win bragging — and beer naming — rights? Only time will tell. One thing is certain, fans on both sides of the game can look forward to a good game and more smack talk tweets in the next few days and during the game.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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Sweetwater announces four new releases for spring

river-scene-blue-logoSweetwater Brewing Company, the Atlanta craft beer powerhouse has four new beers heading to market in February:  Grass Monkey (new spring seasonal), Old Man Johnson’s Farm (new Dank Tank), Mosaic IPA (the first bottle released from The Hatchery), and a 20th Anniversary Ale.  Grass Monkey and Old Man will release Thursday, January 26, Mosaic in early February, and the 20th Anniversary Ale at their 20th anniversary party on February 19.

Details on all:

New Spring Seasonal:

Grass Monkey – hoppy pale wheat with lemongrass

Get sprung this spring with this funky monkey of a wheat ale.  A big stash of Lemondrop hops were added to the kettle and the dry hop, delivering a big citrus blast.  Lemongrass herbs were added for a refreshing twist and exotic aroma.  The light malt bill lets the piney, grassy, lemony notes shine.  Light in body with bright citrus notes, this is an extremely complex but very easy drinking brew.  Available February – April on draft, in 12 oz bottles, 12 oz cans and 16 oz cans.

Malts:  2 Row, Wheat

Hops:  Lemondrop

ABV:  5.4%

IBUs:  35

New Dank Tank Brew:

Old Man Johnson’s Farm – imperial stout with raspberries

Intense aromas of roasted coffee and chocolate from the malt bill are balanced  by a subtle hop accompaniment.  A purple rain of fresh raspberries added during fermentation complement the dark chocolate with a tasty sweetness.    Dust off your beret, put her on the back of your bike, and take a ride down by Old Man’s Johnson’s Farm.  Available starting early February, on draft only.

Yeast:  London Ale

Malt Bill:  2-Row, Munich, Roasted Barley, Black Malt, Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Caramel

Hops:  Columbus, Willamette, US Golding

Fruit Addition:  Meeker Red Raspberries

ABV:  9.6%

IBUs:  60

First Hatchery Series Bottle Release:

*The Hatchery is SweetWater’s new pilot system, a 5-barrel brewhouse.  The majority of the Hatchery brews are only available on draft at the brewery.  The brewery plans to release one bottle per seasonal variety pack release. 

Single Hop Mosaic IPA – an India Pale Ale featuring Mosaic hops

The mind-blowing Mosaic hop and a simple grain bill were chosen, along with a hefty late hop addition and a generous dry hop schedule – all to best showcase the juicy orange, mango, citrus and passionfruit flavors, and big, tropical, biscuity aroma.  The result is a light, crushable, moderately bitter brew for hopheads.   6% ABV.   Available February – April only in spring variety packs (bottles).

New COrk and Cage Release:

20th Anniversary Ale – an imperial IPA featuring Hash on Brett

Extremely hop forward with a residual sweetness; golden in color with a haze.  The Brettanomyces used is a SweetWater house blend.  As fermentation finishes, the Brett will start to produce its associated acids and phenols, lending a slightly tart finish.   The aroma is fruity, herbal, tropical and citrusy, and the Brett gives a nice touch of funk and earthy phenolics.  Will be released at SweetWater’s 20th Anniversary Celebration:   Sunday, February 19 at the brewery, featuring live music with moe.; tickets available here: https://sweetwater.xorbia.com/20th-anniversary-party/)   Available in 750 mL bottles.

Malts:  Pilsner, Maris Ottler, Wheat, Flaked Oats, Midnight Wheat

Hops:  Bravo, Mosaic, Citra

Dry Hops:   Mosaic, Citra

Hash:  Fresh Citra Lupulin Blend

Yeast:  Belgian Ardennes (EDIT: House Brettanomyces)

ABV:  9%

IBUs:  81

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2017 in Beer, Beer Releases

 

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Beer burglars hit SweetWater Brewing

ale

Photo courtesy of: alesharpton.blogspot.com

If you are a lover of SweetWater Brewing Company’s summer seasonal ales, it may be a little more difficult than normal to find a six-pack of your favorite brew. Sometime between close of business Monday, June 20 and opening Tuesday, June 21, more than 79,000 bottles or 3,300 cases of SweetWater brews disappeared along with two trailers that they were loaded in. The trailers were recovered, but much of the beer is still missing.

But, the reason the beer was stolen remains a mystery. By law, retailers cannot accept beer from anyone other than a licensed SweetWater distributor. So, if the motive was to sell the beer, valued at more than $125,000, the thieves are destined to hit a brick wall.

In an article posted to the Men’s Journal website, Tucker Berta Sarkisian says, “We can’t speculate, [why that much beer would be stolen], “but maybe someone is just trying to throw one hell of a party.”

That would be one hell of a party. Just to put it in perspective, that much beer would be enough for every person in attendance at a sold out Jaguars game at EverBank Field to have one beer. Even at that, there would be beer left over for every person in a seat at a sold out Sun’s baseball game to have two beers.

The Associated Press reports that about 25-percent of the beer was found in a warehouse south of Atlanta where SweetWater is located. Ironically, the warehouse is located close to locations where the 1977 comedy Smokey and the Bandit was filmed. The movie’s story revolves around a shipment of Coors beer being trucked through the southern United States. While the similarity of the story and the theft is not lost on SweetWater officials, they are not amused.

Company marketing officer, Steve Farace said that even though some of the beer was recovered, SweetWater would not resell it.

“We can no longer trust that the beer would be up to the quality standards that we as a brewry maintain,” Farace said in the AP article before uttering the words no beer-lover likes to hear. “So, unfortunately we have to destroy it all.”

The beer in the stolen trailers consisted of the company’s summer variety pack that contained their “Goin’ Coastal IPA.” The brew, flavored with pineapple is one of SweetWater’s best-selling seasonal brews. Because of the theft, the vast majority of Goin’ Coastal for the Atlanta region has been lost and must be remade. There is no word on how the heist will effect shipments to Florida or other SweetWater markets.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2016 in Beer, Beer News

 

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Applebee’s honors American Craft Beer Week with special Happy Hour

bdg_ACBW2016_lgAmerican Craft Beer Week is upon us and the number of activities to show your support is nothing less than amazing. One event that you may not have heard about, but should definitely look in to is the Craft Beer Happy Hour at Applebee’s in Bartram Park.

The Happy Hour will feature craft beer from “down the block, around the corner and across the country.” Guests will have an opportunity to choose from a range of beers from local breweries such as Bold City Brewing Company, Veteran’s United Craft Brewing and Intuition Ales Works in addition to brews from regional and national breweries like SweetWater Brewing Company, Sam Adams Brewing Company and Terrapin Beer Company.

Along with the great beer, guests can expect a DJ to be spinning tunes on the patio and opportunities to win fun beer-centric swag. In addition, representatives from Bold City Brewing Company will be on hand to talk about their beers and answer questions.

The Happy Hour takes place Thursday, May 19 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at 14560 Old St. Augustine Road.

 

 

 

 
 

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SweetWater 420 to be served on Delta flights to NYC

Photo courtesy of: alesharpton.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy of: alesharpton.blogspot.com

If you are flying from the Southeastern United States to just about anywhere else chances are you will have a stop at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Located seven miles south of downtown Atlanta, Hartsfield has had the distinction of being the busiest airport in the world since 1998. Nearly 95 million people pass through the concourses of the airport every year to board nearly 1 million flights. By any accounting, that is a lot of traffic.

Hartsfield-Jackson is also the central hub for one of the nation’s largest airlines; Delta. With almost 1,000 flights per day Delta ushers over 59% of their passengers through the airport. And it is because of those numbers that Delta’s new partnership with another Atlanta icon; SweetWater Brewing Company.

In an announcement made through Facebook in Thursday, March 27, SweetWater announced that cans of their flagship 420 Pale Ale will be stocked on all Delta flights bound for LaGuardia Airport in New York beginning April 1, 2014.

Prior to just a few months ago, it was impossible for SweetWater’s beers to be made available on flights because they were only packaged in glass bottles. With the higher precautions do to the events of 9/11, glass and airplanes just doesn’t mix. But, cans are perfectly acceptable for aircraft.

420 is one of the first craft beers to make it on to Delta’s in-flight menu and the brewery could not be happier. In an article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, SweetWater founder Freddie Bench said, “Our new cans eliminate the glass restrictions that previously held us back from offering our beer in great spots like airplanes, stadiums, beaches and more.”

In March, the brewery began canning 420 using a special can-conditioning process that produces a stable beer with a longer shelf life. The process is similar to the used by many brewers to “bottle-condition” beers. A small amount of sugar and yeast is added to the bottle before it is sealed, as the yeast eats the sugar it also removes any oxygen that may be in the can. By removing oxygen, the bane of all beer, the brewery extends the beer’s shelf life.

Delta will also serve SweetWater 420 on flights from Atlanta to Denver April 7-9 during the Craft Brewer’s Conference.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Beer Cans, Beer News

 

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SweetWater 420 Festival moves to Centennial Olympic Park, unveils musical lineup

Photo courtesy of: alesharpton.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy of: alesharpton.blogspot.com

Festival season is in full swing here in the Southeastern United States and SweetWater is gearing up for one of the biggest and best. This year marks the 10th year for the annual SweetWater 420 Festival named for their popular flagship beer SweetWater 420. And, with a decade of partying in the can, comes a new venue. This year the event will be held in the heart of downtown Atlanta at Centennial Olympic Park. The weekend-long event celebrates Earth Day with music on two stages, a comedy tent, local artist market, KidZone, EDM stage, food trucks, the SweetWater craft beer experience tent, Planet 420 non-profit and environmental village and plenty of SweetWater brews.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe event is known far and wide for the outstanding musical talent it attracts. And, while final details are being worked out on the main stage two headliners, festival goers can expect to enjoy headlining artists and local favorites like: Steel Pulse, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Galactic, Dirty Heads, Eoto, Conspirator, Anders Osborne, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, Kung Fu, Honey Island Swamp Band, Wesley Cook, Music Matters Rock U Kids Bands: In Trouble, and The Endless Energy.

“SweetWater 420 Festival is an unbelievable opportunity for us to bring all of the brewery’s passions together in one great festival environment,” said Director of Marketing at SweetWater Brewing Company, Steve Farace in a press release. “As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we are laying the foundation of the festival’s future in our new home at Centennial Olympic Park, and we are looking forward to what’s in store.”

While music plays a huge role in the weekend, the festival provides many more experiences than just good jams. Making a return this year is the SweetWater Experience that brings together beer-lovers with beer industry experts for panel discussions, specialty brews and displays with a look at the culture, beliefs and history of the brewery. Last years’ Experience featured discussions with brewery owners, beer bloggers and other experts designed to round out the craft beer experience for guests and perhaps spark a deeper desire to learn about the industry movement.

Along with having a good time, giving back to the community has always been an important part of SweetWater’s culture. To that end, the festival will once again offer a variety of social and eco-friendly events and activities for guests of all ages. Planet 420 returns, housing dozens of non-profit and environmental organizations offering exhibits and workshops promoting green practices for the home.

Festival attendees can also expect to find an artist market showcasing creations from some of the regions’ most-talented craftspeople. More athletically and competitively inclined guests can participate in the SweetWater 5K run that ends at the festival site, along with Gas South’s cornhole tournament playoffs on festival grounds.

For the youngsters, the festival will provide a KidZone presented by Chipotle Mexican Grill Saturday and Sunday that includes sustainable crafts, gardening workshops, farm to table food preparation, Circus Camp activities, moon jumps, a musical instrument petting zoo and much more.

Those in need of a chuckle can slip in to the 420 Comedy Tent that will feature live comedy shows and improv workshops throughout the weekend. And, to keep things family-friendly, the laughs will be tame during the day. But, when the sun goes down, adults can enjoy full-on unfettered comedy mayhem.

This year the SweetWater 420 Festival will take place Friday, April 18 through Sunday, April 20. Tickets range from $10 for a single-day general admission pass to $18 for the entire weekend. For those who want more access and perks, VIP passes are available for $60 per day or $135 for the weekend. For more information, please visit www.sweetwater420fest.com, follow SweetWater on Twitter and Instagram @420fest, or become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/420fest.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2014 in Beer, Beer Festival

 

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