Florida Legislator Trying To Legalize Growlers So You Can Drink More Good Beer

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Ever had a sinking feeling that something isn't quite right while surveying the beers at your grocery store? Sure, the selection is fine -- maybe not as many local craft beers as you'd like to see, but hey, this is Miami after all. But wait. Why are all the beers SO SMALL?

Turns out there's a 45-year-old law on the books in Florida restricting beer to 32-ounce bottles or less. One great legislator in Tallahassee, fortunately, is trying to change that, and she's got Florida's resurgent craft beer industry at her back.

Rep. Katie Edwards, a Democrat from Plantation, has filed a bill that would let vendors sell beer in 64-ounce growlers as well. She's picked up a number of cosponsors, including the Tampa-area representative whose district includes Cigar City -- Florida's biggest craft brewer.

Florida is one of the few states that still bans growlers, which are a boon to craft breweries because they're more economical than a full-scale bottling operation. Customers can bring growlers back for refills from the tap, and breweries can sell the larger bottles in lieu of six-packs at local stores.

The law dates from 1965 and wasn't a teetotaling attempt to curb big drinkers. Rather, it was the result of lobbying by competitors trying to cut into sales of Miller's popular 7-ounce pony cans, the Sarasota Herald Tribune reports.

Of course, it's also had the handy side-effect in modern times of giving big national beer makers an edge over small local producers. So it's a fair bet that some big money will flow into Tally to try to oppose this bill.

There could be one unintended consequence, at least by Riptide's reading of the new legislation. The current law also bans the sale of 40s -- the malt liquor delivery device of ironic college kids and hobos everywhere.

The proposed language change would seem to open the door to the bigger bottles of High Life and Mickeys as well. Riptide's left a message with Edwards' office -- we'll update the post with more info when we hear back.

Update: Riptide spoke with Edwards, who says her legislation is aimed specifically at the craft brew industry and would only legalize a 64-ounce growler container. 

"People now have an appreciation for these craft beers in Florida, and it would be great to let them produce their beers in a size that's more economical for them to obtain," she says. "The law we have now doesn't make too much sense. It's an arbitrary size restriction. It's archaic."

Edwards says she's found broad support for the idea, even with big brewers; Coors-Miller is backing the plan, while Anheuser-Busch has indicated they plan to stay neutral on it, she says. She's also found Republican support with cosponsors from the Tampa area.

"If we're going to have a craft beer industry, that contributes to tourism and to broader economic development," she says. "It's not the college kids in Ybor City I'm worried about ... I'm trying to help (craft brewers) develop the market."

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