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09 August 2016

Unintended and Ironic Culture, Microbrewery Edition

My parents were recently here visiting me and my wife their granddaughter. We spent an afternoon at one of the local breweries. They commented on how nice the setup was and wished that their local brewery would offer something similar. Let me elaborate.

The Southern US has long been hegemonically controlled by Evangelical Protestants, whose religio-political ideology has encouraged tee-totaling and the otherwise legal prohibition against all things fun. Georgia only recently loosened its blue laws, but macrobrewery/distributor lobbyists have intervened against public and political will to keep restrictions in place for microbreweries. Whereas in most of the rest of the US, like in Michigan, breweries have been able for quite some time to sell their beers, both open and packaged, to their customers, breweries here in Georgia have had to sell tours (with healthy "samples" of beer to be consumed on the premises) but couldn't sell beer directly to patrons. (This constraint has been loosened somewhat, though the enforcement of the laws are still a bit unclear.) Breweries in places like Michigan, because they could, simply sold beer to people as they were accustomed to buying it, from behind bars in breweries and brewpubs that they owned. Breweries in places like Georgia, because they couldn't, had to get more creative so they sold tours, poured samples, offered free live music and an outdoor space on the grounds of the brewery that is part park and part biergarten. Ironically, the very laws that so many of us here bemoaned inadvertently created a cool, Southern cultural experience that is unmatched in other places. Cultural differences (i.e. religious conservatism) led to legal differences led to cultural differences (i.e. Southern brewery experience).

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