Wed., October 30, 2013 5:30pm (EDT)

Savannah Beer Surge Prompts Questions
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 6 months ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Southbound Brewery successfully lobbied Savannah officials to change its alcohol ordinances.  The brewery wanted to offer samples with tours of its facility.  Other changes in the Savannah beer business are prompting further review of the city's drinking laws.  (photo Southbound Brewery)
Southbound Brewery successfully lobbied Savannah officials to change its alcohol ordinances. The brewery wanted to offer samples with tours of its facility. Other changes in the Savannah beer business are prompting further review of the city's drinking laws. (photo Southbound Brewery)
Savannah is gearing up for another round in its periodic brawls over alcohol control.

The city with famously liberal drinking rules is once again revising alcohol codes.

Savannah is one of the few cities in the country with year-round open container rules.

It's called the "to-go" cup.

Few here challenge that rule, but from time to time city officials try to stamp out other practices -- sometimes before they begin.

City Council member Tony Thomas says a bar called World of Beer wants to sell beer to take home.

"If World of Beer is allowed to do that, every other bar in the city would be allowed to do that," Thomas says. "Someone could walk inside of a bar, become intoxicated and then go take a six pack and go home."

The bar sells hundreds of beers, and a lot of those brews aren't available anywhere else.

That fact and others posed by new beer business models are prompting a complete alcohol rules revision.

"The to-go cup is unique to our city and all," Thomas says. "I personally, I would never vote to get rid of the to-go cup. But at the same time, I know that we have issues that are starting to impact the Historic District."

Police chief Juliette Tolbert says increasing the amount of alcohol on city streets would endanger public safety.

"Allowing customers to leave with cans and bottles will make it easier for them to continue drinking," Tolbert says. "Granted, north of Jones Street, drinking is allowed on the street. However, the beverage must be in a to-go cup and not a can or bottle."

Convenience stores and groceries also sell alcohol in containers.

And several new downtown businesses have opened up as "growlers." They allow customers to walk in, fill up a container, called a "growler," with beer and take the beverage home.

Also recently, new breweries and wine shops have challenged city rules prohibiting alcohol serving.

City officials are expected to detail a complete revision of the alcohol laws in a few weeks.