New legislation brews growth in Georgia beer industry

Porter
ATLANTA– Porter Pizza & Brewery is set to open in 2018. (Photo by Alex Patton)

By ALEX PATTON

ATLANTA– Georgia craft beer lovers rejoiced last year when the state lifted regulations on local brewers, and now the industry is facing an exponential growth of breweries and brewpubs planned for 2018.

The passing of Senate Bill 63 in 2015 permitted on-premises consumption of beer in breweries, though only as a “souvenir” or “taste” with the purchase of a “tour.” Many local brewers found the “tour” system to be dishonest and financially fruitless but welcomed the attention that the law brought to their businesses. The passing of Senate Bill 85 in late 2017 finally allowed breweries to sell up to a case their product directly to customers from the business itself, rather than through middleman liquor and grocery stores, turning small-business craft brewing into one of the most profitable culinary industries in the state practically overnight.

For small local business entrepreneurs like Allen Porter, the passing of SB63 and SB85 allowed their creative passions for homebrewing to evolve into a profitable endeavor. In late 2017, Porter convinced his father Winston Porter to install microbrewing equipment into his sports bar, Stats Food and Drink. Following the production of house-brewed beer and a name change to Stats BrewPub, the bar met commercial success and Allen Porter became a recognized name in Atlanta’s craft brewing industry. In late 2017, Porter announced that he would open two new brewpubs of his own in 2018.

“Homebrewing beer has always been a passion of mine,” Porter said. “The reason I’m opening brewpubs instead of a full brewery is because I want the businesses to stay small and hyper-local.”

Porter is set to open both Porter Pizza & Brewery in Sandy Springs and PorterQ & Brewery in Dunwoody in the first quartile of 2018. Offering mid-priced pizza and barbecue along with twelve unique house-brewed beers at each location, Porter hopes that his brewpubs will provide a place for craft brew enthusiasts to enjoy restaurant-quality food with their beer.

Porter said that the 5-barrel brewing system at each brewpub will offer a rotating selection of seasonal beers, which will primarily fall into the New England IPA, pale ale and pilsner styles. There are currently no plans to can Porter’s beer, as canning equipment is expensive and cumbersome, but the brewpubs will offer 32-oz growlers for customers to take home.

“I’m a passionate homebrewer but primarily a real estate developer by trade,” Porter said. “I love beer but I wouldn’t be getting into the brewing industry if it weren’t becoming more and more profitable after this legislation.”

Porter is a businessman with an eye for profitable developments in local markets, joining a string of local businessmen who are taking advantage of the new laws. For veteran Atlanta brewers like Eventide Brewing CEO Nathan Cowan, Georgia’s brewery legislation is long overdue.

“As a small business owner and a libertarian, I’m glad that the new laws finally allow me to provide an honest service to my customers,” Cowan said. “We don’t have to worry about outdated regulations anymore, which is refreshing.

Cowan is an active member of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild and an outspoken supporter of progressive beer and free-market legislation. Eventide Brewing was founded in 2008, making him one of the most experienced brewery owners in Atlanta. As a leading voice in the evolution of the local industry, many incoming brewery and brewpub owners have contacted him for advice.

“The laws support a free exchange for brewers to experiment and serve their consumers responsibly, and puts more money into the local craftsman’s hands,” Cowan said. “It’s no surprise to me that more breweries and brewpubs are opening this year and I welcome some more friendly competition.”

Porter Pizza & Brewery and PorterQ & Brewery are both currently under construction, but Porter confirmed that they are still on track for a first quartile 2018 opening.

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