UPDATE: I mentioned in the last update that this process should have been much easier given that Florida’s brewers are looking for simple, common sense, measures to be taken. Those would be legalization of the 64 ounce growler and malt beverage tastings conducted by brewers.  Senator Gibson filed a delete all, discussed further below, that would return any debate back to the simplicity necessary and simply allow 64 ounce containers and beer tastings. Senator Thrasher did not want Gibson bringing what was essentially old business (bills stuck in Committee). Her amendment was withdrawn. Simplicity and common sense did not rule the day.

Senator Stargel filed an amendment on Sunday night that would keep unnecessary restrictions but simply ease those restrictions. It would:

  • Allow a brewery to have one vendors license on each brewery premises.
  • Allow sales for off premises consumption in sealed containers over 2,000 kegs so long as it does not top 20% of total beer brewed on premises.
  • Breweries owned by the same brewery could transfer beer from location to location up to 2,000 kegs before using a distributor for that beer.

In what was a total farce of a Senate debate, Senator Stargel championed her amendments claiming that it would not hurt any breweries in Florida. She actually went one step further. It was a giant step. It was also based on fantasy, like much of what happened today. She said this will help small breweries compete. This will be what keeps them going before they hit 1,000 barrels of production so they can compete with the big guys. She even said this will help breweries to avoid lawsuits. Now that the law would truly be clarified, breweries would know if what they are doing is right or wrong. It was as if she sought a thank you. She said her amendments were based upon listening and taking into consideration the worries of the brewers that appeared at the last committee meeting on SB 1714. Again, if only she could get some thank yous.

Stargel repeated multiple times that brewers not only prefer to operate with no regulation of beer in Florida, but that they demand it. That is incredibly incorrect. She claimed that the the beer sold in sealed containers on premises by breweries right now is unregulated. My goodness is she incorrect. Florida’s excise tax records would indeed prove otherwise. No Senators asked Stargel why there is a need to protect the three tier system. They simply accepted her “explanation” as gospel. That was a bit disappointing but it is hard to blame them considering they were being fed quite a bit of incorrect information.

In addition to what is discussed above, SB 1714, as of now, would have the following impact on current law:

  • Define a growler as 32, 64 or 128 ounces, rather than including all potential sizes in between.
  • It would describe who may sell growlers: A brewery with beer brewed on premises, a quota license holder, and vendors who may sell for on and off premises consumption
  • Lower the brewers bond amount from 20k to 5k
  • Prohibit brewpubs from shipping beer back and forth between the brewpub and its other licensed premises
  • Prohibit brewpubs from selling beer off the premises
  • Prohibit delivery of beer in growlers or bottles/cans to a consumer (even if done by another consumer)
  • Allow a person transporting a growler to actually transport a growler (yay!)

SB 1714 will be placed upon the calendar for a third reading, at which point the Senators will vote on it.

 

Previous information regarding amendments:

Stargel filed an amendment to her amendment and so did Senator Simpson. Neither amendment was substantial. Just messing around with a poorly written amendment.

Senator Gibson, however file a delete all amendment that would remove everything that SB 1714 would add and simply turn the bill into a malt beverage tastings bill and a bill that would allow 64 ounce growlers. All other language would be removed. It would simply allow brewers to conduct tastings on site at other vendor premises and would allow for the sale of 64 ounce growlers.

 

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