“Big Brewery” Is Trying To Hurt Local Breweries With Controversial Bill That Is Headed For Vote



If you’ve been following this story, then you can see how its all sorts of unfairness for local craft breweries. The big boys at Anheuser-Busch InBev are trying to shut down the growth of local breweries by forcing them to buy their own cans and bottles before they can sell it to local visitors of their breweries. Which basically means that if the companies want to bottle their beer, they have to create the beer, send it to a/the distributor and then buy it back from them to then be able to sell it from their own establishment. It makes absolutely no sense. But when you have billions of dollars and bring in tons of money to the state, you can definitely influence the State officials and prevent the growth of the little guys.

What is allowed though, is that local breweries can sell gallon and quart “growlers”, which are like big jugs that are refillable and you can bring into the brewery to refill, etc. Local breweries are pushing for a half gallon size to be made legal.

The bill was initially intended to allow small specialty craft brewers to sell beer made on-site and poured into individual customers’ 64-ounce containers known as growlers, as they can with 32-ounce and 128-ounce containers.

But at the urging of Anheuser-Busch InBev distributors, who have the backing of Senate President Don Gaetz, the bill was changed to require craft brewers to pay distributors when selling bottled or canned products to customers, even if the beer never leaves the building.

“If you wanted to never package an item in your brewery, if you wanted to sell it all through tap and through growlers, you can do that,” Stargel said. “But if you’re packaging it, in six packs and in bottles, then that has to go out to the distributor system once you reach what we think exceeds micro-brewery, which is 2,000 kegs.”

But Joshua Aubuchon, a lawyer and lobbyist for the Florida Brewers Guild, said the limit will punish existing local micro-brewers “for becoming popular.”

“They’re saying that 1,000 barrels, 2,000 kegs, would put you in the same league as all the big breweries,” Aubuchon said. “Anheuser-Busch conservatively brews 100 million barrels. So what we’re saying in this law is that 1,000 barrels puts you in the same big league as your 100 million barrel competitor.”

Mike Halker, owner of Due South Brewing Co. in South Boynton Beach, said before the committee meeting that the measure remains so oppressive for craft brewers that he is holding off expansion plans until the fate of the bill is known.

“If this bill passes I’m taking my jobs, my taxes, my brewery, everything out of the state of Florida, because this is step one in choking us out,” Halker said. “Step two will be taking away our growlers, step three is taking away our taprooms and at the end of the day we have nothing. We can’t operate like that. We’re at a disadvantage with brewers in other states. … And the Legislature is doing this to us.”

An amendment added to the House measure on March 24 by Sarasota Republican Rep. Greg Steube legalizes the 64-ource growlers, while limiting the amount of beer that could be sold at a brewer’s taproom and the number of taprooms that could be owned by a brewer.

The House measure hasn’t moved since Steube’s amendment was added

As with the Senate proposal, the House version requires growlers to be labeled and sealed when filled with a local craft brew. Also, the bills require the growlers to be taken off-premise for consumption.

All in all…we hope the state comes to their senses and not limit the growth of these rising breweries.

Source: News Press


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