Federal legislation aimed to help craft brewers recover from pandemic may be useless in GA

Congress is looking at ways to help craft breweries recover from the pandemic.

Lawmakers are offering tax incentives to restaurants and bars to buy from local breweries.

But the Georgia Craft Brewers’ Guild told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot that those incentives may not help here.

The guild said they appreciate any help they can get but insists they’re still struggling because the Georgia legislature didn’t help them this year.

The taps are open at Glover Park Brewery in Marietta. Kevin McNerney is the owner and brewmaster.

He says they’re doing well but recognizes a lot of small breweries aren’t.

He blames COVID and current Georgia law.


“It’s affecting small breweries, breweries that are recovering after COVID because clearly, we’re all still recovering from that, trying to put the pieces together,” McNerney said.

Now the United States Congress is considering legislation called the CHEERS Act. It would expand tax incentives to restaurants and bars if they invest in energy-efficient draft lines and keg equipment and encourage them to buy products from local small breweries.

“Every little bit helps,” said Joseph Cortes, executive director of the Georgia Craft Brewers’ Guild.

Cortes told Elliot that he appreciates the federal help, but he said it may not do much good in Georgia even if passed.

They worked this legislative session to get a bill passed that would have allowed local breweries to sell directly to local restaurants and retailers, bypassing the traditional large distributors. But that bill never made it out of committee.

So even if Congress is giving incentives to restaurants and retailers to buy local craft beer, state law, he said, isn’t letting them sell it to them.

“This CHEERS Act in Congress seems like a small step forward, but we’re looking for real relief and reform here in Georgia that will be meaningful,” Cortes said.

The guild said it may try again next session to make some headway in the General Assembly.