Growler bill passes Senate, and why its language gives the craft beer biz hope

Apr 15, 2015, 7:24am EDT UPDATED: Apr 15, 2015, 7:44am EDT – Chris Wilkerson – Deputy Editor- Tampa Bay Business Journal

The Florida Senate unanimously passed a beer bill on Tuesday that will legalize the long suffering 64-oz. growler, among other things.

The state House is working on a similar bill and the issue is closer to resolution that ever.

Because of rules set in place long before the craft beer business took off in Florida and became one of the fastest-growing industries in Tampa Bay, jugs of beer only have been legal in containers up to a quart or more than a gallon. The 64-oz. growler is the industry standard. Florida will be among the last to legalize the growler if this bill gets passed.

The new law also would regulate tap rooms, the retail strategy many craft breweries have used in Florida to grow their brands. Beer distributors and retailers, which have blocked this legislation in years past, have wanted the taprooms regulated because they are a loophole in the three-tiered system of brewers, distributors and retailers set up after prohibition.

As craft beer fans watched the growler bill fall apart at the end of the 2014 Legislative session, Cigar City Brewing Founder Joey Redner and Pepin Distributing CEO Tom Pepin shared a few beers at Cigar City’s Cypress Street location and promised they would find some common ground to get a bill done.

State Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater has been among the bill’s champions this year. On Tuesday, he amended the bill at the 11th hour to make sure its wording was as similar to the house bill as he could get it.

“We’ve come up with some language that — I’m not going to represent that the House has agreed to it — I’m going to represent that I think it’s pretty close to final language,” he said on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

The Senate and House bills both will regulate the amount of beer that is made elsewhere that can be sold at a brewery’s taproom.

You can read the full story at its original source, Tampa Bay Biz Journal.