So, we’ve suffered a setback in our fight to continue to grow the Florida craft beer scene.
There are a few bills that we have been posting and talking about lately. One is a House bill (HB 283), that is our (Florida Brewer’s Guild and our fellow brewers in Florida) bill, that would legalize 64oz growlers and not really change anything else about the way we do business.
The other two bills that have been proposed (not by us) are being labeled as “Craft-killing” bills and will directly and vastly hinder the way every craft brewer in Florida does business. These bills will impact our businesses so much that some of the larger craft breweries (i.e. Cigar City) are considering shopping out of state for future expansion plans if they are to gain traction. The House “Craft-killing” bill (HB 1329) received a “strike all” earlier this week, which was a win for us. However, the bill in the Senate is a different story.
The “Craft-killing” bill in the Senate, SB 7129, was amended yesterday with some very problematic language. The amendment changes the current structure on how breweries may sell beer to-go, prohibiting breweries to sell their own packaged (cans and bottles) beer from their brewery, UNLESS IT WAS PURCHASED FROM A DISTRIBUTOR! So, basically, if you wanted to buy a bottle of beer from our brewery, we would have to sell it to the distributor, buy it right back from them at a higher price, then to sell it to you.
Additionally, it provides an exemption for distributors as to the come-to-rest requirement pertaining to Florida beer. What does this mean? This means that when the distributor would come to our brewery to pick up our beer and sell it back to us, they don’t even have to bring the beer back to their warehouse to log it… they can sell it back to us right then and there!!! The way the amendment is written, they could even pick our beer up and then limit the amount they sell back to us!
The amendment also maintains the current law permitting a brewery to fill growlers of their own beer, but RESTRICTS them from selling any of their own beer in growlers if it was brewed at one of their other locations. This would cause a brewpub to not be able to sell growlers of any beer that was not brewed on site and would hinder any brewery that happens to have two locations from selling beer that was brewed at their other location.
The “good”? It (SB 7129) does allow us the ability to fill 64oz growlers. So, essentially what they are pretending to do is the “favor” of legalizing 64oz growlers while slipping in all of these other craft killing changes.
A bill like this, if passed, would put many craft breweries around Florida out of business very quickly. Even a brewery like Swamp Head would not be safe. A small brewery like ours depends on a combination of on-site and off-site sales to survive and grow as a company. Without this, continuing to do business here in Florida might be something that wouldn’t be possible for us. In other states close by, we would be able to sell our beer however we wanted, without bother.
It is truly unfortunate that these thoughts even have to be brought up. However, they do, and we are asking for you help to make sure they are not something that ends up shutting our brewery down.
What does this mean moving forward and what can you do to help?
1. We must continue to let ourselves be heard to President Gaetz and the rest of the Florida legislators. This is horrible public policy and bad for breweries. Call, write, email, call your media, use your social media – GET THE MESSAGE OUT.
2. We are still making very positive strides in the Florida House, and have a champion in Representative Dana Young who is without a doubt, our biggest proponent. She and Representative Frank Artiles (another hero of ours) are the sponsors of our good growler bill, HB 283, which will be heard Thursday in its last committee and will soon head to the House Floor.
Use these links to find your Representative in the House or Senator :
Also, feel free to use the following as a template to email your legislators and ask them to support HB 283 or vote against SB 7129. Also, in your email you can thank those House reps who voted against HB 1329, which received a “strike all” earlier this week.
“There are a number of bills currently under consideration that directly impact how
craft breweries operate in the state of Florida. Specifically, SB 7120. Florida’s craft beer
industry is a booming sector of the Florida economy. SB 7120 will significantly inhibit
the growth of the existing craft breweries and will make Florida inhospitable to potential
breweries. This means that individuals who wanted to bring economic growth to the
state of Florida will find a more small business-friendly state. This will remove jobs and
resources out of the state at a time when Florida needs economic growth. Please take a
close look at the language in SB 7120 and vote to help small businesses in Florida.”
Florida House of Representatives:
“There are a number of bills currently under consideration that directly impact how craft
breweries operate in the state of Florida. A special thanks to those that voted against HB
1329, specifically Dana Young, and Frank Artiles. Please vote for HB 283. This bill is in
support of craft breweries.”