The Committee on Regulated Industries has filed a proposed committee bill (SPB 7120) in the Senate, backed, presumably, by Big Beer (generally the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association who appear beholden to Anheuser Busch).  Florida Senate President Don Gaetz acknowledged  earlier that “one of [his] very best friends is an Anheuser-Busch distributor” and that he will vote however his buddy tells him to vote.  He was unable to explain any of the issues or provide any further reasoning for why he would back a bill created to stifle a burgeoning industry in Florida.  He did tell the AP writer the following: “I don’t know”. It’s true. He doesn’t. Gaetz humorously vowed earlier to encourage ethical government decisions (oops). 

The Committee on Regulated Industries includes Maria Lorts Sachs, who filed an amendment to kill last year’s growler bill.  Her amendment last year would have restricted growler sales to the smallest breweries and would change the tourism exception for tasting rooms (because Anheuser Busch no longer cared for that one).  Sachs, unsurprisingly, also received a couple thousand dollars from the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association in 2012.  Anheuser-Busch donated $500 directly to Sachs. Gold Coast Beverage and Southern Wine & Spirits combined to donate another $1,500.  John Thrasher, another member of the Committee, received a combined $1,000 from Anheuser-Busch and the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association and $500 each from Pepin and Gold Coast.

Here is what this proposed bill would do:

Defines Growlers as “a clean container made of glass, ceramic, metal, or similar leak-proof material having a capacity of 32 ounces or 64 ounces which, in response to an order in a face-to-face transaction for off-premises consumption, is filled with a malt beverage and sealed on the premises at or immediately before or after the time of sale.” Prohibits the gallon growler. 

Places major restrictions on breweries that also hold a vendor’s license:

  • Sales for off-premises consumption may only be made in growlers in face-to-face transactions
  • The delivery of a growler would be illegal
  • It would prohibit another consumer from buying a growler and giving it to somebody else. Come on (unenforceable).
  • Will prohibit a brewpub from shipping beer between its own premises
  • Will prohibit a brewpub from distributing or selling beer off its brewpub site
  • Prohibits the sale of beer in individual containers greater than 32 ounces unless it is in a 64 ounce growler

Think there may be a loophole or a chance for progress?

The Committee on Regulated Industries attempts to avoid any of those by adding that “[a]nything not specifically authorized in subsections (2) and (3) is prohibited unless otherwise authorized under the Beverage Law.”

It would fix the backwards law that hadn’t properly been updated for decades that actually made it illegal to keep growlers for reuse. Here is a blast from the past on that.

Only allows growler fills by the brewery at which the beer is manufactured or by vendors that hold a full, expensive, quota liquor license.

While most states are making simple, clear and obvious changes to their laws to allow the craft beer industry to thrive and create economic opportunities in the state, some in Florida are attempting to hold it back.

Here is a list of members of the Committee on Regulated Industries.

Senator Kelli Stargel (R)
Vice Chair:
Senator Oscar Braynon, II (D)

This proposed bill is to be considered by the Committee on 03/26/14, 1:30 pm.