Craft Beer-Killing Bill Passes in Florida Senate

The good news first: The Florida Senate passed a bill today that clears the way for craft breweries to sell 64-ounce growlers directly to customers. The bad news: the bill places so many other regulations on Florida's booming craft beer industry it could kill it before it gets a chance to blossom.

Florida has long had some of the toughest regulations on the size of bottles beer can be sold on in the United States. It's why we have to settle for playing Edward Thirty-two-hands here instead of Edward Fortyhands. Except for kegs, 32 ounces was the largest volume of beer you could buy in a single bottle here in Florida.

Forty-seven other states allow for the sale of growlers, 64-ounce glass jugs popular amongst local and crafter breweries.

The burgeoning industry has fought to remove the ban on growlers for years now. Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, in turn sponsored legislation to lift the ban ... but it came with a lot of other regulations. Breweries that produce more than 2,000 kegs of beer a year would be prohibited from selling more than 20 percent of their stock directly to costumers. They'd be forced to sell the rest through beer distributors who would then sell to customers at a markup.

The bill also includes a clause that limits sales of kegs to one per customer per day.

The bill has attracted supporters and opponents alike from both sides of the aisle, a bit of a rarity for Florida's often-polarized legislature. Senators on both sides have expressed the need for better regulations and guidelines for the new industry, while others have painted the bill as a jobs killer.

A version of the bill in the House has not yet made it to the floor.

Either way, if Floridians are allowed to buy growlers this year it may affect the overall craft beer industry. If the bill doesn't pass, that it may be a whole year before the issue is finally decided.

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