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What's the Difference: Brewery vs. Brewpub

September 29, 2016

As we start dipping into cooler temperatures and waking up to crisp morning air, we feel fall moving upon us. Fall gives us the opportunity to explore hiking trails, ride bikes on the Beltline or spend an afternoon trying the latest seasonal beer at our favorite local brewery. Georgia has a number of local breweries and brewpubs that draw beer-enthusiasts from all over the country. Ask any beer connoisseur and they’ll tell you just how hoppy, dark or fruity they like their beer and who brews their favorite. But when it’s time to plan your brew-filled outing, there are some deciding factors that might influence whether you choose a brewery or brewpub. Take a look at the differences below and, who knows, by the end you might be inspired to start your own!


In Georgia, a brewery is considered any “maker, producer or bottler of an alcoholic beverage, specifically malt beverages.” Breweries like Sweetwater Brewing Company in Atlanta, Terrapin Beer Company in Athens or Southbound Brewing Company in Savannah, are not legally allowed to sell beer directly to consumers but can give their beer away by offering paid tours of their brewery. However, check the hours before you go. Breweries are typically only open a couple hours each day and only offer tours at certain times because of their limits on selling beer to consumers.

Starting Your Own Brewery

There are a number of required documents you must provide when applying for a State of Georgia Brewery license. You can find all of the documents for starting a brewery on the Georgia Department of Revenue’s (DOR) website but you will need to submit your application online at The Georgia Tax Center. You will also be required to pay a $1,000 licensing fee and $100 investigation fee for the background check and fingerprinting process.


Unlike breweries, brewpubs can sell their beer on premises to consumers but only in draft form. Additionally, a brewpub must also sell food. According to the DOR, a brewpub must derive at least 50% of its total annual gross food and beverage sales from the sale of prepared food. However, beer that is brewed on premises and sold to wholesale distributors for retail sale cannot be considered when determining the total annual gross food and beverage sales.

Starting Your Own Brewpub

A State of Georgia Brewpub License application must be filled out and submitted online to be eligible for opening your own brewpub. You can submit your application at The Georgia Tax Center and find all of the necessary documents for starting a brewpub on DOR’s website. Additionally, you will be required to pay a $1,000 brewpub license fee and a $100 investigation fee to cover your background check and fingerprinting process.

You can find more information and all necessary forms for the application process Georgia’s Department of Revenue website.

So maybe you’re not ready to open your own brewery or brewpub, but take advantage of the great weather this fall and check out a local brewery near you to support Georgia business owners. Who knows... You might find one you love!

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Chelsea Stephens

About the Author

Chelsea Stephens is the Marketing & Training Lead for Digital Services Georgia. A Georgia native herself, Chelsea enjoys writing on topics that citizens and visitors of Georgia can enjoy and learn from. 

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