Brew Wars: Florida Legislators Screwed the Craft Beer Industry

Categories: Politics

Lumpytrout via wikimediacommons
It's no secret that Florida's craft beer industry is experiencing a bit of a boom -- belated, sure, compared to other states around the nation, but better late than never. This legislative session, your elected representatives have been kicking around legislation that ostensibly would help the industry.

This being the same legislative body behind greatest hits like Stand Your Ground and a Bong Ban, they've predictably come close to pushing forward law that would actually hurt, not help, Florida brew.

The whole issue revolves around growlers, those 64-ounce beer containers that craft heads love to pick up from breweries. Right now, you can't get 64-ounce containers filled in Florida, but you can get 32-ounce and 128-ounce bottles. Legislation in both the house and senate would ostensibly change that.

But, according to a plea shot out earlier this week by Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewers Association, and Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association, the fine print would have a seriously negative impact.

The bills will make it illegal for breweries to sell a 128 ounce growler. It will make it illegal for breweries to fill growlers of their own beer if it was brewed at another location. It will make it illegal for specialty beer shops that are subject to inspection by the Health Department to sell growlers but protects liquor stores that are not required to be inspected by the Health Department. The bill also stipulates that if the new growler restrictions are not strictly adhered to, then you are committing a first degree misdemeanor and could have your brewery license revoked.

By basically handcuffing the industry to twisting regulation, such legislation basically ensured that the craft brew growth in Florida would stop in its tracks.

Brewers found some relief this week in the house, where legislators essentially made some tweaks to the legislation that would not only define growlers as anything between 32 and 128 ounces, but also ironed out the stipulations listed above.

What's the problem now? Well, that cleaned up legislation probably won't hit the floor for a vote before the session ends in May. "The bill, in its current form probably will not pass," Josh Aubuchon, the head of the Florida Brewers Guild, told this week. "It needs some cleanup."

So it looks like the craft brew world avoided full-scale destruction at the hands of legislators. But still, ducking near-disaster doesn't provide the industry much of a handhold in the immediate future. Until some kind of solid law gets in the books, Florida-brewed beer isn't going to boom as an industry.

Send your story tips to the author, Kyle Swenson.

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frankd4 topcommenter

.....................well it has FINALLY happened

the elected legislative leadership has PROVED that political corruption and greed is CAPABLE OF KILLING job creating industries that can innovate and grow a segment

WHEN those innovations and investors and creators are stymied and blocked they go elsewhere like the movie industry did back in the 50's to go to LA

what's different about this is ALCOHOL is how we roll here in ft liquordale and SOBE

the growlers have to learn to link with the gamblers to sieze the day and give the people their party


SethPlatt topcommenter

Republicans claim to support small business, but they again show that this is not the case.

The would rather feed at a trough filled with shitty beers like Budweiser than support home grown local small businesses.


Florida once again proves its elected officials are both corrupt and brain dead.

frankd4 topcommenter's why any innovative and creating REAL business operations have to seek other locations - a moral and ethical and honest business that doesn't pay bribes or kick-backs won't survive here in fraud central in the good-olde-boy network of rednecks and marielitos and drug dealers live with the corrupt politicians and crooked cops and fixed judges

frankd4 topcommenter

............actually they are quite egotistical but smart enough

the money is so enormous that they no longer feel the need to represent their constituents who vote but allow the unlevel playing field to exist

the growler group will just have to learn to pay bribes and kick-backs like the real estate developers and sports franchise billionaires have long ago learned to do

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