Good news Georgia beer lovers! Sanity is headed your way. Unlike the other 49 states, Georgia does not allow breweries and brewpubs to sell their beer directly to consumers. The state’s alcohol distributors, having a firm hold on the general assembly and seemingly wanting to wring every last drop of profit from the sale of beer that they could, have long blocked any liberalization of brewery beer sale rules.
This is bad for small business (breweries) and the consumer, and even the image of the state. I have purchased beer directly from breweries in other states as far back as the 90s. In 2015, a bill was proposed that would have changed this sad state of affairs, but the special interests had it amended to allow only a limited amount of beer (about a six-pack) to be sold at a brewery, and then only with a paid brewery tour. Brewpubs were left out in the cold.
Now comes the 2017 Georgia legislative session, and SB 85 would now allow sales of up to a case a day, with no tour required. Brewpubs can also sell beer to go with the approval of the local city/town/county authority. The bill passed both houses of the legislature and awaits the signature of the governor (he may also choose not to sign it and it will automatically become the law).
That means that soon consumers will be able to go straight to the brewery and buy beers like Fannin Hive Kicker Wheat Wine Ale with Honey. I toured the Fannin brewery a few years ago up in Blue Ridge, Georgia, and enjoyed a few pints. It’s nice to know that soon I’ll be able to buy beer to go there as well. Hive Kicker is their strongest offering to date, in the rarely seen wheat wine style (think a strong ale/barleywine made with wheat). The wheat lightens out the body of the brew and makes it more drinkable, though a drinkable beer of this strength can be dangerous. Drink responsibly. I rarely see wheat wines, and when I posted a photo of Hive Kicker in that most august of beer groups Honest Craft Beer Reviews (accept no substitutes), one fairly experienced beer drinker asked “What’s a wheat wine?”.
From the label:
A Wheat Wine ale with sourwood honey locally sourced from Shadow Wings Farm in Fannin County. Rich, perfumey and filled with fun. This wheat wine starts smooth then gives you a kick to remind you of a sunny day on a horse in the mountains.
Fannin Hive Kicker Wheat Wine Ale with Honey has an alcohol content of 9.3% by volume with 30 IBUs. I paid $7.99 for a 22-ounce bomber, a good price these days.
Fannin Hive Kicker Wheat Wine Ale with Honey pours to a very appropriate honey color with a light to thin head of filmy foam and a soft, subtly sour, toasty honey nose. Taking a sip, the beer is soft malty up front in a gentle caramel sort of way with light wheat notes smoothing it out, then rich, toasty, gently sweet and almost mead-like honey notes rising to the fore. The honey is probably the most dominant trait here, but the beer taken as a whole is seductively smooth and oh so drinkable. I am impressed with this one, a credible wheat wine from this north Georgia brewer. Both the wheat wine and honey pop here, and that makes for one very delicious drinking experience.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.