Omnivore - Brick Store Pub donating $3000 to beer bill fight

Local business rallies in support of new beer laws


With the 2015 Georgia legislative session underway, and the so-called Beer Jobs Bill about to drop, some Atlanta beer retailers are stepping up to help the cause.

Monday, the Porter Beer Bar in Little Five Points donated 10 percent of its daily sales (and 100 percent of a handful of special kegs) to the beer bill fight. Despite the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association’s argument that retailers are against modernizing beer laws in the state, Porter co-owner Molly Gunn says it’s good for everyone.

“I am in no way against distributors nor do I think this bill will negatively affect them,” she said. “I think improved craft beer culture in Georgia is good for them as well, because when I sell more beer, so do they.”

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Decatur’s Brick Store Pub feels the same way. In fact, Brick Store co-founder Dave Blanchard tells Creative Loafing that BSP is going to donate $3,000 to the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild. The funds come from a handful of private fundraising events held at BSP in recent years.

“We feel a responsibility to continue to push and be industry leaders in all bettering of beer,” Blanchard says. “Whether it’s trying to promote an obscure brand we are excited about or pushing for better beer laws.”

When the first fundraiser was held in 2011, Blanchard says, “Georgia didn’t have a true organized group or anyone taking the next step in really pushing for change.” BSP ended up donating the money to Alabama’s Free the Hops initiative, which has lifted a number of legislative restrictions for Yellowhammer State brewers in recent years. Now that the GCBG is mobilized and organized, Blanchard is comfortable contributing funds from the last three annual fundraisers. In fact, this fight reminds him of the campaign to raise Georgia’s alcohol-by-volume cap in 2004.

“Back around 2000, we [[|Georgians for World Class Beer]] really started trying to push to get the 6% law changed,” Blanchard says. “It wasn’t until we got organized that we eventually got it done. That’s when guys like Ted Hull and Mark Nelson really did the bulk of the leg work by getting Stephanie Stuckey on board with the bill and hiring Ronnie Chance as our lobbyist to essentially get it done.”

Blanchard says the Beer Jobs Bill is the most important piece of beer legislation since that landmark ABV bill in 2004. Aside from increasing revenue for Georgia businesses, he says it will attract breweries from other states, and above all, elevate Georgia’s beer culture.

“More breweries means more beer which means more competition which leads to better beer,” Blanchard says. “I do believe Georgia can be one of the best beer states, but it’s not gonna happen until our laws change to benefit the brewery more than the distributor. The distributors will be just fine with these proposed changes. 99% of breweries are not out to get in the distributing business.”