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Tag Archives: Florida growler laws

Florida lawmakers file bills to change growler laws, optimistic change will happen in 2015

9INV_BEER_BATTLEThe push to get Florida’s archaic and restrictive craft beer growler laws are heating up again. Two representatives, Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater and Rep. Chris Sprowls of Palm Harbor – both Republicans — filed bills earlier this week that would allow Florida breweries to sell their beer in 64-ounce, refillable bottles known as growlers. Florida is one of only two states in the nation that prohibit half-gallon containers for to-go beer. Utah is the other state.

At an event held at Dunedin Brewery near Tampa, Latvala said, “It’s nothing new or revolutionary, we’re just announcing we’re going to file the same bill we’ve filed the last two years.”

Last year, a bill to allow 64-ounce growlers, but loaded with other damaging attachments, failed to get voted on before the end of the congressional session effectively killing it.

In addition to the bills filed by Latvala and Sprowls, a Stuart, Fla. bar-owner filed a lawsuit against the state citing that the ban on half-gallon growlers is arbitrary because it serves no public interest, like it would if it curtailed drunk driving. The suit goes on to allege the ban creates an unfair competitive advantage for larger beer brewers because they can afford to package beer in six-packs and other multiples.

“In a state that depends on tourism, being out of the step with the rest of the country costs craft beer businesses money,” the suit said. “The law is irrational.”

Standing in the way of the bill for the past few years has been the powerful lobbying reach of big brewers and distributors who have tied the growler issue to others such as Florida’s three-tier system and allowing breweries to operate on-site tasting rooms.

But, big beer distributers may be loosening up in their opposition of small breweries selling the national standard, half-gallon growlers. Just a few weeks ago, Mitch Rubin, executive director of the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, said the group would not stand in the way of “stand-alone product.” This reversal of position could mean that Florida’s Anheuser-Busch beer distributors would agree to a “clean” growler bill without added attachments.

At the Dunedin event, Latvala summed up, “I don’t think there’s a reason in the world why Florida should be one of only two states in this entire country that doesn’t allow 64-ounce growlers.”

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Posted by on December 19, 2014 in Beer News

 

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Growler fight subject of short documentary film

beerbattle-300x165 (1)On a more serious note, readers of this blog are familiar with the fight going on in Florida over growler size. For those who are not up to speed on this issue, in a nut shell a group of mega-brewery beer distributors have been maneuvering to block all attempts by Florida’s craft beer producers and community to legalize 64-ounce growlers.

State law in Florida currently allows both 32-ounce (one quart) and 128-ounce (one gallon) growlers. But, because of “safety and public health” concerns the state — under pressure from powerful lobbyists from the above mentioned distributors — has torpedoed all  challenges to the current law.

The fight has been the subject of many articles and news accounts and is now surfacing as the topic of a short documentary shot by Florida State University student, Hunter J, Truman. Truman shot the film for a school project and includes interviews with Joey Redner of Cigar City Brewing Company, Byron Burroughs of Proof Brewing Company and Josh Aubuchon, lobbyist for the Florida Brewers Guild.

Beer Battle from Hunter J. Truman on Vimeo.

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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Beer Education

 

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Growler culture expands locally; Simple rules to enjoy draft beer at home

Beer_growlerGrowlers are a touchy subject here in Florida. We are banned from filling half-gallon growlers but are allowed to purchase two one-quart or even gallon growlers. And, until recently, it was impossible – or at least very difficult – to get a growler filled at a liquor or package store.

But, those are all regulatory issues that are either being attacked by the brewers and beer-lovers of the state or have already been rectified. The charge on growler size is being spear-headed by Jacksonville’s Ben Davis of Intuition Ale Works. And the ABC store at the corner of San Jose and Sunbeam is now offering 12 draft beers for fills of quart-sized growlers.

Growler culture is an odd thing. People love the convenience of being able to take home a freshly poured bottle of beer, but do not seem to know how long it will keep after they get it home. Another disturbing behavior regarding growlers is the state in which they are returned to tap rooms and fill stations. They should be clean, but often are a smelly, residue-laden mess.

For the uninitiated, beer is an extremely finicky liquid. Exposure to air and light can cause great damage to it ranging from slightly off flavors to absolute skunkiness. Likewise for heat, while the damage may be less severe when a cold beer is allowed to warm to room temperature than allowing a beer to sit in a car baking under the Florida sun for several hours, there is going to be some degradation. Also, beer is easily infected by bacteria that, you guessed it, can lead to a good beer going bad.

So, how should you treat your growler full of delicious, freshly-tapped beer? Well, with great care, of course! And by that we mean follow these simple rules:

  • After filling, go home and put your growler in the refrigerator or carry a cooler with ice in it to keep it cold.
  • Consume the beer within two weeks.
  • Once you open the growler, your beer will quickly go flat, so finish it within two or three days.
  • Once empty, immediately rinse well with hot water and air dry.
  • Never use soap or put in the dishwasher – this will affect the beer’s head.
  • Insist the filler use a new cap every time you get your growler filled.

Please note the third item on the above list. Bringing a dirty growler back to a fill station could result in them filling your unclean (and probably infected) growler with beer without rinsing it. This can only lead to trouble when good beer comes in contact with the remains of your last fill. It is a simple matter to rinse the growler after it is empty, just do it! You will thank me later.

For an interesting, and somewhat humorous discussion about the subject of dirty growlers, read the story linked below from the Bangor Daily News in Maine.

Growler care is simple and more people should do it.

If you love craft beer, want to try more of it or share it with friends, the growler can be a real convenience. Just swing by any of the local breweries or ABC on San Jose and choose a beer you would like to try. But, be sure to follow the simple rules above and you are sure to enjoy the taste of fresh draft beer at home.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Beer Education, Beer News

 

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Florida legislators backing bill to increase growler sizes

A growler of beer

A 64 ouce growler of beer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unbeknownst to many beer lovers in Florida, the size of the container in which your favorite brew is packaged has been a hotly debated topic in Tallahassee for quite some time. Back in 1959, Florida legislatures passed House Bill 563.06, this law placed restrictions on malt beverages and the containers in which they can be packaged. That short piece of legislature has changed the way that Floridians can enjoy beer for over 50 years.

To many, the law is overly restrictive and, well silly. So, why was the law put into place at all? According to an article in the Florida Times-Union on June 20, 1999, the law may have been put into place, at least in part, because legislators “were mad at Miller Brewing Co. for building a plant in Georgia instead of Florida and in effect outlawed a 7-ounce bottle sold by Miller.”

A Florida Senate document from September 1999 titled, Review of the Malt Beverage Container Size Restrictions lays out many of the arguments that have been made as to why the law should not be changed. Some of these include:

  • Beer prices might rise due to increased competition
  • Multiple container sizes might confuse unwary consumers
  • Container sizes larger than 32 ounces may encourage over-drinking or send the wrong message to young people

The current law places Florida craft brewers at a distinct disadvantage to similar brewers in other states. This is because the most common growler size across the country is 64 ounces or a half gallon. And if you think about it 64 ounces is a size that makes more sense than the 32 or 128 ounce growlers that are currently allowed by Florida law. A 32 ounce growler contains enough brew for approximately two pint glasses of beer or a little over two and a half bottles or cans of beer. If you have a friend over, that is not really a lot of beer. On the other end of the spectrum, a gallon growler is too much beer for a single sitting yet, once a growler is opened, it must be consumed relatively quickly of it will go flat.

But, now there is a House Bill, presented by Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, that would allow breweries to sell 64 ounce growlers. The bill, HB 715, does not change any other portion of the current malt beverage laws in Florida, however. What it does do though, is put Florida breweries on even footing with their competitors in other states and give Florida beer consumers the opportunity to bring home fresh beer in a size that is more convenient.

In the past, attempts to change the growler laws have met steep opposition and failure. But this year, Edwards has an ally in Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa. An article in the Sarasota Herald-tribune from February 15 of this year quotes one of Young’s aides, Ryan Terrell, as saying, “We’re just attempting to deal with the size issue. That’s where the economic development will come into place.”

Young’s district includes Cigar City Brewing Company, a brewery keen to see the size restrictions changed as are others across the state.

You can follow the progress of the bill by going to http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2013/0715 and setting up a Bill Tracker account.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Beer, Beer News

 

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