State Distribution Laws

Georgia


License Needed to Self-Distribute? No
Statute ? O.C.G.A. § 3-5-32

http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/gacode/default.asp

Georgia does not allow brewers to self-distribute their beer, and has some stringent requirements over brewer’s relationships with their distributors.

Brewers must give their distributors exclusive territories. While the state’s laws technically permit brewers to enter into verbal agreements with wholesalers, they are also required to file the territories granted to each wholesaler with the state. In the event the brewer wants to modify the brands or territory of a distribution agreement, they must submit a notice of intent for the proposed change to the state for approval (and send a copy to the affected wholesalers). The notice must include the name of the current wholesaler and, if applicable, the new wholesaler, their case volume for the current and past two years, a list of anyone that has a financial interest in the new wholesaler, and their reasons for requesting the change. Some of those reasons could include, financial instability of the current wholesaler, repeated violations of the distribution agreement, and the wholesaler’s failure to maintain sales volume.

After submitting the notice of intent, the affected wholesalers can file objections to the proposed change. If objections are filed, the state will hold a hearing to investigate the matter and determine whether the brewer has valid reasons to make the change. If no objections are filed, the state will approve the change 30 days after receiving the notice of intent. During that time, the brewer must continue to supply the wholesaler, until the change is approved. There is an exception, if the brewer discontinues its brands in the state, in which case it just needs to provide the state with 30 days’ notice of its intent to stop selling its brands to all state wholesalers.

Brewers are also prohibited from having any financial interest in or ownership of a licensed Georgia wholesaler or retailer. In addition to that, brewers are also not allowed to:

  • force wholesalers to accept beer they haven’t ordered;
  • restrict a wholesaler’s ability to sell other brands of beer
  • set resale prices for their wholesalers; or
  • require or prohibit a management change of their wholesalers.
  • Fun Fact: The mascot of Atlanta’s SweetWater brewery is a rainbow trout named Trouser.