Georgia Raises Maximum Alcohol Content for Beer

Georgia lawmakers passed a bill that increases the maximum alcohol content in beer from 6 percent to 14 percent, the Associated Press reported June 21.

“Beer has gotten a bad rap because of what we’ve been forced to drink the last 40 to 50 years,” said Glen Sprouse, brewmaster at Five Seasons Brewing in Atlanta. “Maybe you haven’t had a good beer before.”

The new standard takes effect July 1 and would allow microbrews and international beers to be sold in the state.

“The beers we really liked weren’t available because of this law,” said Ted Hull, founding member of Georgians for World Class Beer, which has pushed for reform since 1997. “We’re very excited about it. It’s been kind of a long road to get to this point.”

In past years, lawmakers resisted raising the limit out of concern that it would increase teen drinking. “The biggest concerns were adding to the number of DUIs and accidents related to alcohol that may kill somebody,” said Rep. Craig Brock (R-Chatsworth), who voted against the bill. “It’s been a hot issue.”

Beer supporters contend that the beers are more like sipping a fine wine and are not used to get drunk. “These beers have a very strong taste. It’s an acquired taste,” said Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (D-Decatur). “It appeals to a different kind of market.”