Augusta breweries now able to sell beer directly to customers

AUGUSTA (WJBF) — Local breweries are celebrating a new Georgia law that took effect September 1st.

The change allows craft brewers to sell their beer directly to customers, instead of selling to a distributor who then sells to stores.

It’s a law that Riverwatch Brewery in Augusta has been waiting for since it opened its doors in May 2016.

“You can come in and say I want to buy a little taster. I want to buy to buy 12 ounces. Whatever size it is that you want to buy and we can just sell it to you,” Owner Brey Sloan said.

That means no more required tours.

Before the new law took effect, beer drinkers had to buy tickets for a brewery tour and then after the tour, they’d get samples of beer.

With the new law, you can buy beer to drink in the taproom or you can buy beer to take home.

“You can buy now, up to 288 ounces, which is basically a case of beer. One case equivalent. 288 ounces. One per person per day. So that’s a lot of beer you can buy at the brewery now,” Sloan said.

The changes make it easier for Riverwatch to connect with its customers.

Sloan says the new law will also help with her plans for expansion.

“Hopefully we will get a little bit better of a revenue stream. That is going to enable us to get more equipment, do some more hiring or make some other changes around here,” Sloan said.

The new law is a win for craft breweries across the Peach State, but Sloan says there is still more work to be done.

She’s hoping state lawmakers will eventually lower Georgia’s excise taxes.

“That’s the amount that we have to pay for manufacturing. The Georgia excise tax is pretty high. Local excise taxes are even higher,” Sloan said.

Riverwatch Brewery has changed its hours because of the new law.

The business is now open Wednesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Tours are only offered on Saturdays now.

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