Thank you to those who submitted your petition. HB 1329 was amended with a Strike All Version in a favorable fashion. The petition is listed to end 3/25 due to an error but the vote was 3/24.
There is no need to sign this petition anymore! Thank you so much! This bill's companion bill in the Senate SPB 7120 does require action however. Please contact the Committee on Regulated Industries and tell them NO on SPB 7120, House Bill 1329's "companion" bill!
11 ways this will serve to stifle Florida's Small Breweries
1. 128 oz Growlers and any other size other than 32oz and 64oz will be de-legalized. Despite the 128 ounce growlers not being popular, there really is no reason to put this in the law. There have been a few new products/growlers on the market and in development that are odd sizes, say 60 ounces. This part of the law would again make Florida non-congruent with the rest of the states if a new tradition or fad comes about. It's unneeded regulation and silly to include. How about legalize ALL growler sizes.
2. Places limitations on the situations in which a brewery can sell beer directly to the consumer. This is bad news for breweries as most brewery tourism is based on these type of transactions. Selling beer directly in taprooms is served at its peak freshness and is handled in house by the people that value its quality the most - the people that made it. It also eliminates bottle sales in breweries of special release beers/etc.
3. Places a new set of restrictions on breweries that open after July 1, 2014, eliminating the sales of beer directly for tourism/local markets. In my opinion, this grandfather clause is meant to simply appease existing breweries slightly as to minimize opposition. The restrictions simply spell less money coming into start up breweries. It's designed to funnel more beer into the 3-tier system through distributors. It effectively would make new breweries have to open a separate location and BUY their own beer back from the distributor to re-sell to the consumer. Mind boggling.
4. Prevents breweries that will be grandfathered in from expanding or they lose their taproom (vendors license). This acts to cap out the number of breweries operating as taprooms, effectively making them a "thing of the past". This could serve a few breweries that are situated without need for expansion very VERY well.
5. Makes new breweries that open required to sign contracts with distributors prior to opening. These contracts are generally regarded "for life". Generally the only financially feasible way for breweries to get out of a contract is if the distributor sells the contract. Start up breweries are often overwhelmed by initial regulations, expenses, permits, etc - this required timeframe to sign a contract is CLEARLY an advantage for the seasoned distributor to sign on breweries that may not be aware of items in the contracts that could cost them down the road (think lost kegs, quotas, etc). It gives the upper hand to the distributor.
6. Requires breweries to meet the needs quantity wise (quota) for the distributors and spells out a definite time frame (60 days) that a brewery CANNOT go without producing beer for the distributors. It also spells out a timeframe (30 days) that a brewery cannot be closed without losing its "Grandfathered" taproom (vendor license). Breweries face losing their license if they do not comply. So basically, it gives distributors more leverage in making breweries produce, even if old contracts did not specify things like quotas. If a brewery doesn't produce (opts for a tourist or local only based business) and isn't funneling product into the 3-tier system, they're out. In most states, this sort of thing isn't regulated - it's a working relationship/contract between the two without state intervention. What it seems to me is that this is intended to nix small distribution breweries altogether and make them re-file for brewpub licenses, a license that prevents them from selling growlers, bottles, or distributing to local restaurants/bars/etc.
7. Prevents a brewery from operating a winery. The Point?
8. Eliminates pre-sales of growlers or event "special release" beers by requiring sales to be done "Face to Face". This seemingly has huge implications on events such as "Hunahpu Day" at Cigar City, in which the brewery pre-sells tickets that include a certain number of beers that are limited release. In other states this is a common occurrence.
9. Eliminates sales of growlers by bars and retail stores. In some parts of the state, and in most other states, this is extremely popular. In many states Growlers are available everywhere, even grocery stores.
10. Establishes rules for filling growlers (Tamper proof caps, label restrictions). This is interesting. It has implications for selling empty growlers unlabeled (such that home brew supply shops sell for personal use at home). For example, the way state law is currently written, it is illegal to bottle homebrew in used bottles that have labels on them . The law was written with intent to prevent counterfeit beer (as if that exists) but has far reaching implications. It honestly is unneeded regulation.
11. Sets law that beer must physically rest at a distributors facility before being sold. This eliminates breweries from selling orders through a distributor and being picked up by a 3rd party. It also eliminates the likely avenue of side-stepping the taproom law by illegalizing the possibility of breweries "buying" back beer from the distributor to sell at an adjoining taproom. It would PHYSICALLY have to leave the brewery, go to the distributor, then come back to a "taproom" that isn't physically part of the brewery and then be sold. This would kill the quality of the beer and not make "taproom" visits lucrative to tourists or locals.
In a nutshell, Florida breweries get the 64 oz growlers they asked for, but limits sales of them to basically no one and tacks on numerous stipulations that are designed to STOP the bubble from growing.
I have traveled across the U.S. to cities voted "Beer City U.S.A" such as Denver, Grand Rapids, and Asheville. None of these cities would have succeeded to gain such a prized title with restrictive regulations outlined in HB 1329. It is appaling that Florida has politicians that are willing to put the profits of huge distributors ahead of small business, Florida Jobs and a bustling market.
VOTE for LESS regulation at the next election and let our economy thrive!