Senate Passes Bill Creating Craft Beer Regulation

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News Release: Associated Press News
Updated: April 29, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida's growing craft beer industry would face new regulations under a bill passed by the Senate.

The Senate voted 30-10 on Tuesday for a bill that would restrict the amount of packaged beer breweries can sell directly to visitors.

Craft brewers opposed the bill. They currently can sell unlimited amounts of their kegged, canned and bottled beer at the breweries.

Sen. Kelli Stargel argued the brewers are now operating under a loophole created for the Busch Gardens theme park and the bill would clear up ambiguity in the law.

But Sen. Jack Latvala said the bill will stifle the growing industry and cost jobs.

The bill would also legalize half-gallon refillable beer containers known as growlers.

News Release: Florida Beer Wholesalers Association
Updated: April 29, 2014

Today the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association offered its support for SB 1714, the so-called “growler” bill, being sponsored by Senator Kelli Stargel.

The bill, as amended yesterday, will give Florida’s craft beer industry many of the privileges it has sought in order to conduct more direct-to-consumer sales, especially for beer brewed on-site. The bill will allow
brewers to by-pass the current three-tier system and sell – direct-to-consumers – the following:

  • Beer brewed on premises for on premises consumption.

  • Beer brewed on premises in take-out containers known as “growlers,” which can be in 32, 64, and 128-ounce containers, as long as they are properly sealed, labeled, and sanitized. (The bill also allows 15.5 gallon kegs.)

  • Beer brewed elsewhere (guest beer) for on-premises consumption.

  • Up to 20% of a brewer’s on-site production can be sold to go in sealed containers without going through a distributor. Plus, small brewers (brewing 2,000 kegs a year or less) can now sell (to go) as many cans and bottles of their product as they like without going through a distributor.

Stargel’s bill keeps many other facets of Florida law untouched, including brewpub laws and a brewer’s ability to obtain a winery or distillery license. Further, with these changes, the bill will ensure that many of the current three-tier protections for brewers, distributors, retailers and consumers will remain in place.

“The Stargel bill gives brewers a great deal of latitude in selling directly to consumers and addresses many of the craft brewers’ concerns without completely destroying Florida’s modern three-tier system. This is a big compromise for distributors and retailers. Senator Stargel and Rep. Dana Young worked on the bill throughout the weekend. Rep. Young represented the craft interests well, ” said Rubin. The bill is up for a vote today.

Members of the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association represent over two dozen independent distributors throughout the state and collectively distribute over 1,500 different brands of beer, including many of Florida’s homegrown craft beers.

News Release: Associated Press News
Updated: April 28, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A bill that would restrict take-home sales of cans, bottles and kegs of beer at Florida breweries is ready for a Senate vote.

The bill was amended Monday over questions that it could hurt breweries. The bill would allow bottle and can sales at breweries, but they would be limited to no more than 20 percent of the total beer production. The restriction wouldn't apply to breweries that produce less than 2,000 kegs of beer a year.

It also would restrict keg sales to one per person per day.

The benefit to brewers is a provision that would legalize half-gallon refillable beer containers that are the industry standard in 47 states.

The Florida Brewers Guild opposes the bill because currently there are no limits on packaged beer sales at breweries.

News Release: Associated Press News
Updated: April 22, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Gov. Rick Scott supports the legalization of the refillable half-gallon beer containers known as growlers among craft beer lovers.

But Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said Tuesday whether he signs a bill to allow 64-ounce growler sales at Florida craft breweries is still to be determined.

Breweries can now sell unlimited gallon and quart growlers, but Florida's odd container laws prohibit the half-gallon size that's the industry standard in 47 states. Legalizing the half-gallon size is the top priority this legislative session for the booming craft beer industry.

But a Senate bill ties the growler size to more regulation that would hurt the craft beer industry and slow its growth. A House bill would allow 64-ounce growlers with no strings attached.

Scott has repeatedly said he opposes regulations that cost jobs.

News Release: Associated Press News
Updated: March 24, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A bill that would legalize half-gallon beer growlers passed a House committee after language craft brewers said would hurt them was stripped from the legislation.

The House Business and Professional Regulation Subcommittee approved the bill Monday that would allow beer growlers in any size. Florida only allows the refillable beer jugs in quart and gallon sizes -- not the 64-ounce container that are sold in 47 other states.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Ray Rodrigues originally contained regulations that craft brewers opposed, such as banning sales of their product in kegs, bottles and cans at the breweries.

Gabe Grass plans to open Grasslands Brewing Company in Tallahassee in July. He said the original bill was "scary" for small startup brewers, and he was pleased with final version.

News Release: Associated Press News

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The makers of Budweiser say they support the legalization of half-gallon beer growlers.

Anheuser-Busch jumped in on the issue Friday, saying it supports legalizing the beer jugs that are popular at craft breweries around the nation.

Florida's craft breweries can now fill gallon- and quart-sized growlers, but the most popular size elsewhere is illegal in Florida.

Anheuser-Busch distributors, which are independent of the beer giant, only support legalizing half-gallon growlers if other regulations are placed on the small breweries. Brewers say those regulations will hurt the industry.

Anheuser-Busch vice president of industry affairs Doug Bailey said in a released statement that the brewer supports deregulation of container sizes as long as growlers meet the same safety, packaging and labeling standards other beers have to follow.

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