Politicians Just Don't Understand Beer: The Passing of Florida Senate Bill 1714

Categories: Beer Beer Beer

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Photo by Monica McGivern
Craft beer is popular. Fans of the Funky Buddha Brewery get it.
The following is an op-ed, with some of my frustrations laid out.

Holy hell, it actually passed. These were the thoughts that went through my mind Tuesday afternoon when controversial Florida Senate bill 1714 passed to a vote of 30-10, effectively signaling to the booming craft beer industry that the brakes were on.

The measure to curtail the craft beer industry, which has seen a 20 percent dollar growth in 2013 nationwide, restricts brewers making more than 2,000 kegs a year (31,000 gallons) from selling no more than 20 percent of their beverages themselves.

What started as a move to legalize a gap in growler container sizes (the infamous Florida law that prohibits the industry standard 64-ounce growler), has ended up here, where the ropes are being tied and the stakes driven.

But how? How did we get here?

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The craft beer nation is taking note, and "Big Beer" is scared: Its market in Florida of macro-drinking consumers is having the wool pulled up from over their eyes. People are taking note that one of our civilization's oldest traditions, brewing beer, doesn't have to taste like watery fizzy hopped-up industrial "beige."

Once the experience took hold, the market for craft beer exploded across the Sunshine State, possibly taking lobbyists by surprise. It should be no surprise, however, when you have a state with the fourth-largest population in the United States (more than 19 million) and combine that with being 34th in consumption per capita only 18 months ago.

Couple that with the fact that growth in the market in 2013 was 20 percent in dollar sales and that Florida has but one brewery per 329,848 residents (compared to a state like Oregon with one per 27,365), and it makes you wonder: If this industry is truly continuing to make gains in an otherwise sluggish economy, why throw caltrops into the road?

Yet as of this writing lawmakers in Tallahassee are seeking to reduce that growth through uninformed and biased legislation aimed to curtail gains made by small, independent, and family owned businesses. This coming from a supposedly pro-business-led Senate.

Even the federal government is looking to help spur the industry, with items like HR 494, or the Small BREW Act, which seeks to mend "the Internal Revenue Code to reduce the rate of the excise tax on beer produced within or imported into the United States for brewers who produce not more than 6 million barrels of beer a year."

But what it comes down to is, our state legislators just don't get beer.

If they did, they'd never pass something like this.


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12 comments
Tod Brown
Tod Brown

If I had to make an educated guess, a fuckload.

Tod Brown
Tod Brown

This law is clearly written and paid for by the big alcohol distributors. I can't believe this is even being discussed.

Gary Mundt
Gary Mundt

F Budweiser,-,,,,,oops , after today im done

Michael Woulfe
Michael Woulfe

Isn't it odd how big business opposes regulation - unless it gives them an unfair advantage over other businesses. Distributors and large beer companies already have another huge advantage over the little guys - massive campaign contributions to the people who make the regulations

Anthony Alfano
Anthony Alfano

F--- big nasty adjunct lager!!! This is such BS- I HATE BUD!!!!

Curt Cole
Curt Cole

This should encourage people to get out & vote those pro-big-business people out this year!

Jonathan Whittaker
Jonathan Whittaker

Wonder how much Budweiser is contributing to the campaigns of the lame asses who sponsored this bill. Looks like a trip to Due South is in my close future.

Joel Kodner
Joel Kodner

Yeah, because it has flavor and shit.

Edgar Ochoa
Edgar Ochoa

they used our picture!.... Vanessa Bloom

GovtMule
GovtMule

All of them who voted yes are the ones who think we should all be satisfied with Bud Light.

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