The Florida Legislature didn't pass a budget this year. They haven't decided what to do about Medicaid expansion. But they did finally settle another painful and lingering debate in the Sunshine State. After three years of failed efforts, 64-ounce beer growlers are finally legal. The bill was passed by both houses and signed into law by Rick Scott yesterday.
Dating back to Prohibition, Florida has had strange laws that restrict the sale of beer and other malt liquors to containers that hold either 32 ounces or fewer or 128 ounces or more. Besides the noticeable lack of 40-ouncers in our convenience stores, this didn't prove enough of a problem for the government to actually bother changing the old laws.
That was until the craft beer craze hit Florida. Small-scale brewers in other states prefer to sell their suds in 64-ounce refillable jugs known as growlers, but this was technically illegal in Florida. In fact, Florida was the only state where they were illegal. After two previous failed attempts to legalize growlers, they'll now be totally legal in Florida beginning July 1.
“We are eliminating another burdensome regulation and allowing more Florida businesses to succeed,” Scott said upon signing the bill.
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The bill met with opposition from alcohol distributors. Under Florida law, alcohol manufacturers must sell to a distributor who in turn sells the booze to stores and restaurants, and distributers were worried the change could upset their business. The growing craft beer industry, however, persuaded legislators to finally move on the issue.
“Growlers will give our customers more choices, increase our sales, and directly benefit Florida and its taxpayers,” Mike Halker, president of the Florida Brewers Guild, said in a statement.
However, the law also limits the size of cups used for beer tastings to 3.5 ounces and caps the number of taprooms a brewery can operate to eight.