Next week, an Athens prosecutor will decide whether or not to cite a brewery for serving beer.
Athens Clarke County Unified Government Prosecutor Bill Berryman claims that while an undercover officer spent two hours in Creature Comforts and was given beer, she was not offered a tour. (Memo to police officers: you might not be taking full advantage of “undercover.”)
State law forbids breweries from selling beer on their premises, though they can offer “samples” at the end of tours.
Earlier this year, craft breweries and the Department of Revenue reached an agreement: breweries could price “tours” differently based on the “samples” offered at the end, but they could not dispel with this fiction that college students and young professionals were paying for brewery tours multiple times a week.
That law is a particular annoyance in Athens, which has a thriving brewery industry. The downtown Creature Comforts Brewing Company, as well as the older Terrapin Brewing Company and new-competitor Southern Brewing Company, have become interwoven with collegiate culture. Part of their appeal, in an irony I hope is not lost on Prosecutor Berryman, is that they are some of the few places in town that actually enforce the 21 year old drinking age.
Athens benefits greatly from the craft brew craze and particularly from the presence of Creature Comforts, which operates in a 1940s Chevy dealership it won awards for rehabilitating. In a town whose economy is based in no small part on wink-and-nudge law enforcement, it would be a shame to drive out a popular and responsible business.