While Augusta tries to be more cool, its leaders are letting the beer get warm.
After months of study and debate — and decades of falling behind other communities around the nation — the Augusta Planning Commission couldn’t even agree last week to recommend tightly regulated small breweries downtown.
So it will wait at least another month just to make its recommendation to the Augusta Commission.
Georgia fashions itself a bastion of individualism and freedom — but the government here still treats us as children who have to be watched over every minute, and who can’t be trusted with an open beer or an open brewery.
It required moving heaven and earth to get two microbreweries open the past year — but they’re restricted to industrial areas, away from where the most customers are on Broad Street.
The Planning Commission couldn’t even manage a second to allow smaller brewers on Broad.
Craft and local beers have exploded in popularity across the nation over the past few decades — and North Carolina, in particular, is light beers ahead of us. What’s it going to take to drag Augusta into the 21st century?
This isn’t demon rum, nor is it Chicago speakeasies during Prohibition.
It’s legitimate businesses and discerning customers just wanting to get together over a cold Augusta-made brew. What’s the problem here?
The microbreweries in industrial zones are allowed to brew up to 15,000 barrels a year. The city now is considering allowing smaller brewers in the B2 downtown general business zone: “nanobreweries” allowed to produce up to 3,000 barrels a year, and smaller “picobreweries” making up to 500 barrels per year.
Another category, brewpubs, could brew up to 10,000 barrels a year providing they get 50 percent or more of their sales from food.
Again, this isn’t rocket science, and other communities around the region and nation have long since opened up to local brewers.
How can we become the nation’s 21st century home of cybersecurity when our government and commerce are mired in the bad-old-days of archaic bureaucracy and antiquated laws?
Come on, Augusta!