Monday, March 20, 2017

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 9/10, 2017.

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundup
A bi-weekly, non-comprehensive roundup
of news of beer and other things.

Weeks 9/10
26 February - 11 March 2017

  • 11 March 2017
    Since the start of the year, off-the-premises beer sales —in supermarkets, chain stores, and chain convenience shops— are down by 1.2 percent over the same period in 2016; sales of 'craft' beer are up, but only by 1.6 percent. Data by IRI.
    —Via Brewbound.

  • Royals & Boulevard
  • 10 March 2017
    The Kansas City Royals pick an official 'craft' beer 'partner' —Boulevard Brewing— a first for any Major League baseball team. Miller Lite, however, remains the team's 'official' beer, per se.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 9 March 2017
    • Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, states that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming, a statement at odds with the established scientific consensus on climate change.
      —Via New York Times (9 March).
    • President Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt to cut the EPA's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 97 percent, from $300 million to $10 million —the pollution cleanup project of the Great Lakes, the water system that contains 21% of the world's surface fresh water, a project that has bipartisan support.
      —Via Michigan Live (3 March).
    • President Trump to cut the nation's weather satellite program —run by the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration— 22 percent, by $513 million; to cut the entire NOAA budget by 17 percent.
      —Via Washington Post (3 March).
    • President Trump to to slash the Chesapeake Bay cleanup fund by 93 percent, from $73 million to $5 million. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest inland estuary in the lower 48 states.
      —Via Washington Post (1 March).

  • 7 March 2017
    England-based international drinks conglomerate, Diageo (owner of Guinness) introduced a bill in Maryland state assembly to exclusively grant its new Maryland brewing facility for Guinness the right to sell up to 5,000 barrels of beer annually to visitors (versus current Maryland limit of 500 barrels). After backlash, Diageo begrudgingly agreed to a new bill extending the barrelage increase to all Maryland breweries...while simultaneously keeping its original, exclusive, bill in consideration. It's jarring to read "England-based" and "Guinness" in the same sentence.
    —Via Baltimore Sun.

  • Siren Noire & Thin Mints
  • 2 March 2017
    • From an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, entitled, “How Girl Scout cookies and craft beer pairings became the next big thing.
      One thing you have to give craft breweries credit for is the creativity in the way they imagine flavors and bring those to fruition in their beers. You have craft brewers who are doing everything from loading their tanks and conditioning their beer with donuts to one in Oregon that sealed the tank with blueberry muffins to add the flavor to the beer. There is boundless creativity within the world of craft brewing itself and that is one of the primary drivers that makes this whole thing interesting.
      —Jamie Bogner (editorial director, Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine)
    • “Creativity in the way ‘craft’ breweries imagine flavors and bring those to fruition” might be one thing. But, no, far from deserving credit are ‘brewers’ who toss donuts and blueberry muffins into brewery tanks: that act is a puerile farce, bereft of real imagination or brewster’s skill. And, by the way, pairing Girl Scout cookies with beer might be a lark, but it is NOT, by any stretch of a writer's imagination, the “next big thing.”
      —Commentary via YFGF.

  • 1 March 2017
    An international team led by University College London scientists claim to have discovered fossils of bacteria aged 3.8 to 4.3 billion years old —the oldest fossils ever found on Earth— in the Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt (NSB), in Quebec, Canada. The Earth itself is estimated to be 4.57 billion years old.
    —Via Agence France-Presse (at Yahoo News).

  • 1 March 2017
    Murky green beer? Breweries are brewing with a new hop product called "cryro hops" (that is, lupulin powder processed from hops).
    —Via Stan Hieronymus, at Appellation Beer.

  • 1 March 2017
    U.S. beer drinkers select their favorite beer bar in each of the nation's fifty states plus the District of Columbia, as compiled by CraftBeer.com, the consumer arm of the [U.S.] Brewers Association.
    —Via CraftBeer.com.

  • Ayinger Celebrator, on draft
  • 1 March 2017
    Liquid bread for Lent. The story of Salvator, Celebrator, and dopplebock.
    —Via Jeff Alworth, at All About Beer.com.

  • 26 February 2017

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    Saturday, March 18, 2017

    Pic(k) of the Week: Flavor Enhancing Floaties?

    Flavor Enhancing Floaties? (01)

    13 February 2017. A highly acclaimed 'craft' beer Imperial IPA with mango and orange added; obtained within a month of being can-packaged; stored refrigerated for a few days; poured, from a can, slowly into a glass. And a second time. And a full four.

    Online beer-raters have used the term "flavor enhancing floaties" to praise beers like this. But this can't be 'craft,' can it? At best, it's gross insouciance; at worst, rank incompetence. Craft is skill, honesty, and charm; isn't it?

    In 1979, Fritz Maytag —the godfather of craft beer before there was 'craft' beer— moved his dilapidated Anchor Brewing to beautiful new digs in San Francisco, California. Really beautiful digs. Afterward, he appealed to the intrinsic grace of beer: "Don't tell me that good beer can be made in an ugly brewery." Likewise, now in 2017, don't tell me that my beer must be unseemly to be ineffable. Hell, no!

    They tell me to surrender; the beer is out of the tank; the murk is loose; the battle is lost. "You are old, Father William."

    Ah, but I am not alone. The struggle endures! Beauty forever! Resist! "Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"

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    Wednesday, March 15, 2017

    Almost there: good news about good laws for good breweries in Georgia.

    Georgia and Mississippi are the only two states in the United States which forbid direct-to-consumer sales at breweries.

    Early in 2015, however, Georgia breweries won a small, if somewhat goofy, victory when the state legislature passed a law allowing them to sell beer directly to customers who take brewery 'tours.' Nudge-nudge, wink-wink. The beer came as 'free souvenirs' during the 'tour' or as 'souvenirs' the attendees could take home with them.

    NO Beer to Go

    As the brewers figured it, the cost of the beer would, of course, be worked into the price of the 'tour.' But, not so fast.

    In September 2015, the Georgia Department of Revenue reinterpreted the law. It issued a bulletin declaring that a brewery's 'tour' prices could NOT be based on the value of the beer given during a tour and that those tours could only include a limited amount of 'free' beer at the end: up to thirty-six fluid ounces of free malt beverage to each tour attendee in a calendar day in free tastings, and up to seventy-two ounces of beer as a free souvenir.

    After a backlash —including statements from legislators that the DoR's re-interpretation was not what the legislature had intended— the Department relented in early 2016 and reestablished the bill's original intent. But the requirement of a ‘tour’ fiction and the prohibitions on per-pint pours in a brewery taproom and on brewery beer sales out-the-door remained.

    Georgia Capitol @6am

    Which brings us to Monday’s action by the Georgia House of Representatives (and the earlier vote of the Georgia Senate, on 2 February):

    Press release from the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild

    Monday, 13 March 2017
    The 2017 Georgia House of Representatives voted today in favor of legislation to allow consumers to purchase beer or spirits directly at the brewery or distillery where they are made. Senate Bill 85, authored by Senator Rick Jeffares (R-Locust Grove) and carried in the House by Representative Howard Maxwell (R-Dallas), passed with vote of 147 to 14.

    “This legislation is a victory for small businesses across our state from Blue Ridge to the Golden Isles,” said Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge). “I appreciate all of the stakeholders coming together and working out a solution that empowers our craft brewers and distillers to create more jobs. As Georgia’s economy continues to grow and new industries and entities enter the marketplace, this legislation will serve as an example of how to move forward in a positive and mutually-beneficial way.”

    Throughout the summer and fall of 2016, business leaders from craft breweries and their wholesale partners met to discuss common sense updates to benefit the beer industry in Georgia. “With suggestions championed by both brewers and wholesalers, Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, House Regulated Industries Committee Chairman Howard Maxwell, and Senator Rick Jeffares have provided guidance to create this legislation. Their commitment to supporting the small businesses of Georgia shines through in SB85,” said Nancy Palmer, Executive Director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild.

    In the House Regulated Industries Committee, under the guidance of Chairman Howard Maxwell, Representative Ron Stephens, and Representative Alan Powell, SB85 was modified to represent the terms of a compromise reached by the Georgia Distillers Association and the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of Georgia. With the new language added, visitors to breweries and distilleries will be able to sample products by the glass, take up to three 750 ml bottles of spirits or one case of beer-to-go, and purchase food without the current tour and tasting requirements. Both distilleries and breweries will be subject to an annual sales cap of 500 and 3000 barrels respectively. Furthermore, the bill slightly modifies the brewpub license to reinforce local control on issues of to-go sales from brewpubs.

    According to Palmer, the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association and the Georgia Municipal Association are also due credit. “The wholesalers of Georgia and our allies in cities across this state have been crucial in this process.”

    Having found common ground with his counterparts in the industry, Chris Sywassink of Ghost Coast Distillery and the Georgia Distillers Association added, “We’re grateful to our wholesale and retail partners for the time they have spent working with us in a spirit of cooperation for the last year. And we’re fortunate that leadership within the Georgia legislature has created an environment that encouraged compromise and communication. The GDA is especially indebted to Speaker David Ralston, Chairman Howard Maxwell and Chairman Ron Stephens for their time, energy, encouragement and tireless efforts over the past 2 years.”

    Max Lager fermenters

    Here’s more about the vote, from the Savannah Morning News (13 March 2017):
    Breweries and distilleries in Georgia this week are toasting the state House of Representatives’ passage of legislation that will let them sell their beverages straight to consumers.

    The Georgia House voted 147-41 on Monday to adopt an amended version of Senate Bill 85, which will provide for distillers and brewers in the state to sell a set amount of barrels of their products directly to the public each year. The state Senate passed its version of the legislation in a 49-2 vote on Feb. 2.

    There’s [sic] still a few more steps to go before the bill goes into effect. Because the legislation was amended to add in the language for distilleries, the bill needs to be agreed upon by the state Senate before it heads to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature. If the governor signs the legislation, it would go into effect Sept. 1.

    As passed by the House on Monday, the bill allows for distilleries in Georgia to sell up to 500 barrels and brewers to sell as much as 3,000 barrels of their product on the premises each year. Previously, these companies were required to sell only tours of their facilities and then offer free samples during limited hours each week.

    Carly Wiggins [marketing and sales director for Savannah’s Southbound Brewing Co. and sitting president and membership chair of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild] said the new law would be more than just a boon for breweries, which take, on average, five years to break even. While breweries will be able to generate more revenue through direct beer sales, the state will also benefit from brewery tourism and from an additional, taxable revenue stream.

    There would be one more issue for state officials and local brewers to address once the legislation crosses the governor’s desk, said Kevin Ryan, CEO of Service Brewing Co. in Savannah. If the law passes, Ryan said, the next step would be to see how the Georgia Department of Revenue decides to interpret it. In the past, he pointed out, the Department of Revenue’s interpretation of Georgia’s beer laws has fluctuated, which has emphasized the importance of clear and concise legislation. Assuming, however, that the interpretation matches the major points in the bill, Ryan said, he’s happy about the prospects for Georgia.

    The executive director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, Nancy Palmer, said she’s been tracking more than 80 prospective brewing companies that have expressed an interest in opening in the Peach State if the legislation passes. “If just two-thirds of these breweries come to fruition, Palmer said Monday, it would more than double the 50 breweries currently operating in Georgia.”

    On the distillery front, meanwhile, the benefits should be similar to those for Georgia’s breweries, said state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, one of the authors of the distillery legislation. “What passed in the state House Monday essentially dismantles a long-standing shell game the state has played to appease critics over the years, Stephens said. “Now you can directly sell a limited amount,” he said. “It is still a limited amount but it is a huge victory for distillers and brewers. It’s going to help everybody. Once people find the product, they’re going to want to go to the retailer and buy the product. … When you’re looking at a tourist town like Savannah, where tourism is the No. 1 industry, this is a big deal.”

    Chris Sywassink, owner of Savannah’s Ghost Coast Distillery and a member of the Georgia Distillers Association, said there are 17 distilleries operating in Georgia today, but he expects that number to double in the next few years if the legislation is ultimately signed by the governor.

    Sweetwater taproom

    What it all means

    A barrel of a beer is not a physical container; it's a unit of measurement equal to thirty-one U.S. gallons (and, in fact, defined as such by the legislature in this bill). Thirty-one gallons is the equivalent of two hundred forty-eight 16-ounce pints. Senate Bill 85, if signed into law, will permit a Georgia brewery to sell three thousand barrels of beer per year to customers in its taproom. Doing the math, that's 744,000 16-ounce pints of beer.

    When it comes to spirits, however, the legislature defines a barrel as fifty-three U.S. gallons (a gallon more than twice a U.S. beer barrel). Thus, the 500-barrel limit that the legislature is granting for distillery taproom sales is worth more than it might seem.

    The legislation also reaffirms that brewpubs are permitted to sell beer-to-go (think: growlers) where the brewpubs are permitted to do so by their county or municipality. And it allows production-breweries to sell growlers and/or packaged beer to go, up to a case of beer per day per customer (that is, twenty-four 12-ounce bottles or the equivalent of 288 fluid ounces).

    Nancy Palmer, executive director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, has calculated that there are currently fifty breweries in Georgia. And, she believes, there might be as many as eighty breweries that might open in the wake of SB85's hoped-for passage: a 160% growth spurt. But it might be even better than that. Beer Guys Radio list sixty-five breweries and brewpubs as operating in Georgia, and one cidery.

    Of course, it'll all be moot unless and until the Georgia House and Senate reconcile their bills and if the Georgia Department of Revenue gets creative with intent and language. So, stay tuned.

    And thank the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild for its efforts; and (if you're a Georgia resident) encourage your representatives to vote yes; and, maybe, toss a few barleycorns over your left shoulder for good luck.

    *****************
    UPDATE Wednesday 22 March 2017:
    Per GPB News, the Georgia Senate approved SB85, by a vote of 52-1 (amending it to include the distillery option added by the House). From here, the bill heads to Governor Nathan Deal. If he, as expected, signs it, the law will take effect on 1 September.


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    Monday, March 13, 2017

    Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 7/8, 2017.

    Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundup
    A bi-weekly, non-comprehensive roundup
    of news of beer and other things.

    Weeks 7/8
    12 - 25 February 2017

    • 24 February 2017
      U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials declare their legal right to forbid all passengers on U.S. domestic flights from disembarking without first showing agents their identification.
      —Via Washington Post.

    • 23 February 2017
      We are disappointed with our depletion trends in 2016, which have remained weak so far in 2017. These trends are affected by the general softening of the craft beer category and cider category and a more challenging retail environment with a lot of new options for our drinkers. New craft brewers continue to enter the market and existing craft brewers are expanding their distribution and tap rooms, with the result that drinkers are seeing more choices, including a wave of new beers in all markets.
      —Jim Koch, CEO/founder Boston Beer (maker of Sam Adams beer; largest American 'craft' brewery), via Craft Brewing Business.

    • 22 February 2017
      The [U.S.] Brewers Association to grant a total of $440,000 to nineteen unique research projects. Thirteen of those are devoted to research on growing barley for 'craft' brewing.
      —Via Brewers Association (at YFGF).

    • 22 February 2017
      Seven Earth-size planets that could potentially harbor life have been identified orbiting a dwarf star named Trappist-1, about 40 light-years, or 235 trillion miles, from Earth, quite close in cosmic terms. One or more of the exoplanets in this new system could be at the right temperature to be awash in oceans of water, astronomers said, based on the distance of the planets from the dwarf star, according to an international team that has been observing Trappist-1, named after a robotic telescope in the Atacama Desert of Chile that the astronomers initially used to study the star.
      —Via New York Times.

    • 21 February 2017
      Christine Celis, daughter of Belgian beer icon Pierre Celis, buys back rights to her family name, will open Celis brewery in Austin to brew the orginal recipe of Celis White.
      —Via Brewbound.

    • 21 February 2017
      Kenneth Arrow, Nobel laureate and seminal economist with wide impact, dies at 95.
      • Shared the Nobel Prize for Economics with British economist Sir John Hicks in 1972 for contributions to welfare economics and general equilibrium theory, a branch of economics that studies the behavior of supply and demand for multiple firms in a competitive market.
      • Proved, with his “impossibility theorem,” that no voting system can fairly aggregate voter preferences in an election involving three or more candidates while simultaneously satisfying several reasonable conditions, thus “fundamentally alter[ing] economic and political theory and practice.”
      • “Found that the delivery of health care deviated in fundamental ways from the traditional competitive market and, for this reason, was a non-market relationship [...] which puts the consumer (patient) at a relative disadvantage.”
      —Via Washington Post.


    • American Craft Beer Week 2017
    • 21 February 2017
      Pass the beer; but hold the flag-waving. The [U.S.] Brewers Association announces American Craft Beer Week for 15-21 May 2017.
      —Via YFGF.

    • 22 February 2017
      Mildred Dresselhaus, physicist dubbed ‘queen of carbon science’ —a leader in the study of the electrical and electronic properties of solids, with specialties in exotic forms of carbon and in nanoscience, the physics of materials at scales of one-billionth of a meter— dies at 86. Dr. Dresselhaus was the first woman to serve as a full and tenured professor at MIT and the first woman (in 1990) to win the National Medal of Science for engineering.
      —Via Washington Post.

    • 20 February 2017
      For two years in a row, beer consumption volume has declined in China —the world's largest beer market (44,853,000,000 liters per year)— and is set to continue to do so for the next five. The reasons include intense competition, changing tastes, growing health awareness, and a slower economy.
      —Via Bloomberg.

    • 18 February 2017
      Beer writer Alan McLeod finds beer-brewing procedures written in cuneiform by the Babylonians three-thousand-years ago.
      —Via A Good Beer Blog.

    • 18 February 2017
      Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide, has died at at 69.
      —Via Washington Post.

    • 18 February 2017
      A continent two-thirds the size of Australia has been found beneath the south-west Pacific Ocean, scientists reported in the journal of the Geological Society of America. Tentatively called Zealandia, the land mass of 4.5 million square kilometers (1.74 million square miles) is 94 percent underwater and only its highest points - New Zealand and New Caledonia - poke above the surface.
      —Via Reuters.

    • Brewers For Clean Water
    • 17 February 2017
      Beer is 95 percent (or more) water. So, without question, safe, clean water is vital to craft brewing's viability (and, of course, to the health and vitality of all Americans). Several American 'craft' breweries have publicly agreed, becoming signatories to the Clean Water Pledge of the National Resource Defense Council. But Congress has ignored their plea and approved former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt's history of opposition to maintaining, preserving, and promoting clean water, let alone our nation's other precious natural resources, prima facie disqualified him for the position.
      —Via YFGF.

    • 17 February 2017
      Richard Pankhurst, one of the world's leading experts on Ethiopian history and culture, has died aged 89. Pankhurst campaigned for the return of piles of plunder taken from Ethiopia by invading British troops in 1868, and of a giant obelisk taken from the ancient city of Axum by Mussolini's forces (which was returned in 2005). Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry called him a "doyen of historians and scholars of Ethiopia".
      —Via The Telegraph.

    • 16 February 2017
      President Trump signs executive order permitting toxic coal-waste poisoning of American rivers, overturning the Stream Protection Rule of the Office of Surface Mining.
      —Via The Hill.

    • 16 February 2017
      In 1946, George Orwell —author of Animal Farm and 1984— found the perfect pub. Or did he?
      —Via YFGF.

    • 15 February 2017
      As part of an three-year collaboration with several genomics groups, yeast purveyor White Labs has sequenced the genetic information contained in 157 different strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae: ale yeast.
      —Via Oliver Gray, at Good Beer Hunting.

    • 14 February 2017
      Valentines' Day truth from 2007:
      Red wine with chocolate is like an arranged marriage. The only thing they have in common is fruit: Red wine tastes like it, and chocolate sometimes tastes good with it. However, red wine's overbearing tannin, oak, and acid affront a fine chocolate's complex creaminess, and neither lets the other finish a sentence. They don't belong together. Chocolate needs something like beer, a beverage that can be supportive. They speak the same language. They share the same bittersweet nature. Think of the beer as you would a chocolate's center: chocolate-covered malt balls, toasted rice, toffee. They like to go to the same places on your tongue <...> With beer and chocolate, it's not a matter of getting it wrong. It's more likely to be just right.
      —Maggie Dutton at Seattle Weekly (via YFGF).

    • 16 February 2017
      • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has deleted online tracking of animal abuse at zoos, labs, puppy mills, etc.
        —Via Mother Jones.
      • After backlash, the USDA released a statement on February 17 saying it would again post certain animal welfare reports on its website. Not all previously-scrubbed documents will be available, only those pertaining to certain research and federal facilities inspected by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services. Records on animal breeders, zoos, and horse trainers are still unavailable.

    • 15 February 2017
      Twenty-billion dollars worth of American crops —thirty percent of the nation's food supply— rely upon bee pollination. Despite that economic necessity, President Trump has frozen ecological protections for the nearly extinct American bumblebee.
      —Via Newsday.

    • 12 February 2017

    • 11 February 2017
      The basic appeal of beer samplers, both for consumers and breweries, is understandable. Samplers help eager beer drinkers fill a perceived need—insatiable drive, perhaps—to try every possible beer. But with more than 5,000 breweries in the US and thousands more in planning, and with each one making dozens if not hundreds of beers every year, one cannot even realistically hope to try every ale and lager brewed in a small-sized city. [...] Unfortunately, samplers provide consumers with an inherently incomplete drinking experience. With their limited pour size and almost uniform inability to allow for proper head formation, carbonation, or aromatic development, they’re unable to offer even a reliable snapshot of a beer’s spirit. The flavor, aroma, and character of a beer develop over time, as it warms and opens up to further exploration. This shortchanged experience is finished in a flash of three or four ounces.
      —Via Andy Crouch, at Beer Advocate.

    • Snow Moon eclipse (@ 8:30 pm ET)
    • 10 February 2017
      Full moon and a partial lunar eclipse: the Snow Moon of 10 February 2017. And the passing of comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusáková within 7,732,000 miles of the Earth.
      —Via YFGF.

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    Saturday, March 11, 2017

    Pic(k) of the Week: The demolition of the Georgia Archives building.

    Georgia Archives demolition (03)

    Just after 7 o'clock on the morning of 5 March 2017, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced, "fire in the hole," demolition experts exploded several charges, and, with several loud bangs, a fireball, and a huge plume of dust, the former Georgia Archives building, in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, imploded. In addition to the governor, a few thousand Atlantans had gathered to view the demolition, standing (well) back from the east side of the building.
    The monolithic Georgia Archives —the 14-story tall "White Ice Cube" building in downtown Atlanta, Georgia— was imploded on Sunday, 5 March 2017, just after 7 am, collapsing into a subterranean 4-story parking garage.

    When the building was built in 1965 on Capitol Avenue, near the Georgia State Capitol, it was called the most modern archival facility in the nation. But by the late 1990s, engineers determined that issues related to ground water leakage and nearby freeway construction would be inordinately expensive to repair.

    In 2003, the new Georgia Archives facilities opened in Morrow near Clayton State University. By 2004, the adjacent Southeast Regional Branch of the National Archives opened to the public.

    The building has remained empty since that point. Officials said after the current structure is demolished, a new state courts building will be constructed, providing a new home for the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court.
    NBC 11 Atlanta

    And, here: how the Archives Building appeared only a few days earlier (as seen from the west side):

    Georgia Archives panorama

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