Craft Commander Will Moderate Young Republican Beer Summit Tomorrow

It's only January, and 2015 is already proving to be a busy year for beer in Florida. With legal challenges to both the state's growler law and brewery tasting rooms, there should be lots to talk about at the Miami Young Republicans Beer Summit at Town Kitchen & Bar.

These topics will be points of discussion, and perhaps debate, this Tuesday at 7 p.m. Anybody wanting to know more about these two issues should attend the summit. Marco Leyte-Vidal, Miami's Craft Commander, will moderate the event, which will include some of the state's movers and shakers.

See also: Miami's Craft Commander: Attorney by Day, Beer Connoisseur by Night

Leyte-Vidal confirms that Mitch Rubin will attend the event. Rubin is the executive director of the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, which represents more than two dozen distributors across the state. Rubin supports lifting the state's ban on 64-ounce growlers, or take-home jugs filled at beer taps.

But the association is among the few fighting to preserve the state's three-tiered system that separates manufacturer, distributor, and retailer. A problem has been brewing among the three parties over a state law that allows breweries to sell beer in retail tasting rooms. Many breweries throughout the state have been using this law to their advantage, causing distributing and retail advocacy groups to challenge the law.

The FBWA recently joined the Florida Independent Spirits Association (a retail group) in a lawsuit against the state's Division Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, seeking a clarification over the tourism portions of the law.

The summit will bring together those from both sides of the issue for an honest discussion of some of the issues that will come up during the 2015 legislative session.

House Bill 107, filed last month, seeks to change the law that allows manufacturers to sell directly to consumers, as well as prohibit state welfare recipients from using electronic benefit transfer cards to purchase alcohol.

The debate over growlers and tasting rooms has drawn clear lines between advocates and opponents. Local brewers will also be there to weigh in. But Leyte-Vidal hopes to have a substantive conversation and get a few misconceptions cleared up as well.

"By bringing leaders on both sides of the legislative issues surrounding craft beer together in the same room to field questions, people will be able to get a sense of just what is at stake and why both sides feel it's important to have the laws reflect their views," Leyte-Vidal says. "The summit will also help people better understand how the growing beer industry and the surrounding legislation affect other businesses throughout the state, tourism, and plays a role in job creation in and out of the breweries. People have been asking a lot of questions -- now is their chance to have them answered."

If an interesting conversation on beer politics is not enough, the summit begins with a networking happy hour, as well as a do-it-yourself brewing demonstration, at 6:30 at Town Kitchen & Bar.

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