craft beer law

Where We Are With 2015 Malt Beverage Legislation

I have been asked a few times in recent days for a quick update of where things generally stand as we near the halfway point in the 2015 legislative session.  This is that:

Senate Bill 186, filed by Senator Jack Latvala, began as the straightforward growler bill that the distribution lobby claimed they would unconditionally support. While it began by simply adding language that would allow 64 ounce growlers and controlled who could sell them and listed labeling requirements, it has grown quite a bit.

It now removes the tourism exception so that the law simply states that a manufacturer may obtain a vendors license on property consisting of a single complex that includes a brewery.  Simply, if you have a brewery, you can have a vendors license on the premises (taproom). This way, the distributors and retailers no longer require clarification from Florida’s ABT to explain what the tourism exception means.

It limits […]

By |March 27th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

Propaganda Season in the Beer Industry – Force the Distribution Lobbyists to Make Sense

Some of the distribution and retail groups – generally the ones behind the administrative proceedings that sought to challenge the tourism exception – are beginning to ramp up their efforts in the realm of incredibly easy-to-recognize propaganda. The message, as is often the case, will be without context and will focus on ignoring the realities of the situation. Hey, look over here and please don’t question what’s happening over there (let’s focus on the fact that craft beer in Florida exists but not consider how it can thrive further with a more reasonable statutory scheme that works in other parts of the country).

The rallying cry is that the three tier system works. What that means, for many, is let’s not grow. Let’s not evolve. Let’s leave things the way they are. It also means that they want people – legislators, consumers, media – to believe that this is the three […]

By |March 16th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

Legal Challenge of Florida’s Container Size Laws

Most are probably aware now that a lawsuit has been filed against the State of Florida (the Secretary of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco and the Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco) seeking a declaration that Florida’s container size limitations are unconstitutional and enjoining enforcement of the container size limitations. Those container size limitations ban all containers between 32 and 128 ounces, thus making it illegal to sell or fill the industry standard 64 ounce growler. The suit was filed on behalf of a craft beer retailer that operates in Stuart.

Now that the suit has been filed, what kind of interesting things may follow? First, will the State defend this lawsuit? It’s relatively indefensible and may just be a waste of time and money. Defendants must simply prove that the challenged law is rationally related to […]

By |October 29th, 2014|Blog|1 Comment

Craft Beer: Franchise Laws Need Not Apply

Franchise laws, as applied to the  craft beer industry, have the negative potential of restricting the possibilities for growth (small brewers may avoid expanding into a test market because they will first have to tie themselves to a distributor forever) and allowing distributors to hold breweries to a relationship that is neither healthy nor profitable for either party.

Franchise laws were viewed as a necessity a few decades after Prohibition, when few breweries remained operational. Those that remained were generally doing the uninteresting: mass-producing uniformly flavored beer. However, the efficiency of these breweries came at the expense of flavor and creativity and would put many smaller breweries out of business. This led to a great deal of consolidation in the beer industry and ultimately led to the existence of several large breweries with power to influence the policies of the next tier of the distribution system, the distributors themselves. It was […]

By |June 12th, 2014|Blog|1 Comment

It’s Kind of Their Thing

Anheuser Busch is doing that thing Anheuser Busch does. This time in South Carolina. It’s what they recently did in Florida. Here, they had some politicians that were either willing to do their bidding or were willing to accept vague and unsupported assertions as fact without asking any logical follow-up questions. In South Carolina, they’ve got their lawyer-lobbyists doing the same.

ABInBev’s attorneys wrote a short letter to South Carolina Senators asking that they “please non-concur”  with house amendments to the bill that was drafted to help open up the craft beer industry in South Carolina and perhaps provide incentive to Stone Brewing to bring jobs and money to South Carolina. Read that letter here: (as posted by Wesley Donehue and BeerOfSC) http://www.scribd.com/doc/224630184/Stone-Bill.

The attorneys begin by noting that “the manner in which the law would be changed would be detrimental to the current three tier system for alcohol distribution.” It is […]

By |May 19th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

A Letter to the Senator

I emailed Senator Stargel today after reading her opinion piece that appeared in a number of Florida publications:

Senator Stargel,

I read your opinion piece on SB 1714 this morning and wanted to reach out in response. I certainly appreciate your opinion and the fact that you took the time to attempt to clarify certain information making its way around the media and internet right now. I also appreciate that you have worked hard on this bill and have made efforts to find a compromise. I don’t believe any compromise was ever necessary because I don’t believe there ever should have been any such legislation that would add more regulations to Florida’s beer industry. I would like to go through your piece and reply to your arguments.

 

STARGEL: It’s clear the three-tier system, purposefully instituted after Prohibition, must be preserved to prevent: predatory practices that would eliminate competition, opaque or illicit distribution channels, […]

By |April 29th, 2014|Blog|2 Comments

Florida Beer Compromise?

With the legislative session underway and the insulting HB 1329 filed, now is probably a good time to look at the other malt beverage bills out there to see what they are up to. HB 1329, filed on Monday, may have the affect of being so utterly ridiculous that it diverts attention from the other malt beverage bills. Those bills are likely to get some edits and turn into “compromises”.  HB 7075 may be that compromise. The folks behind the drafting of the Big Beer Bill may hope they can have people “look over there” while unfavorable changes are made to the other malt beverage bills.

Here is a rundown:

HB 7075 – The “Compromise” Bill to HB 1329? (filed last Friday, February 28. 2014)

  • Allows self-distribution of up to 3,000 gallons
  • Allows for a “taproom” on the brewery premises without the need for a separate vendor’s license
  • Brewers could sell their own […]
By |March 6th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments