We don’t want to see Senate Bill 1714 pass in the Florida House of Representatives. It’s bad for Florida breweries and their loyal fans. Florida breweries deserve a bill that is in their language (i.e. barrels, not kegs) and is realistic to keep their industry thriving.
Beer IS business. And like every industry in both State and Federal Governments, breweries merit regulations that serve both the industry and the public. These regulations need to give the public a clear understanding of what the law means.
Senate Bill 1714 falls short of what the Florida beer industry needs and deserves.
Ask Rep Weatherford & Your Representative not to review Senate Bill 1714 in the House, and tell them Why (i.e. the bill was “slapped together”, or not practical for the Florida brewing industry, etc.).
Your communication will be much more persuasive if your message is concise and polite.
On the eve of the 2014 Florida Legislative session, Representative Ray Rodriguez introduced House Bill 1329, which proposes big changes for the operation of Florida breweries. The stated purpose of HB 1329 is to authorize a “very limited exception to the three-tier system” by allowing breweries to sell their beer in growlers. While the bill does authorize growlers (in two sizes), it also imposes strict requirements on the operation of existing brewery taprooms and ensures that new brewery taprooms will never operate in the same way.
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Different Rules for Taprooms Old and New
House Bill 1329 divides Florida’s production breweries into two categories: production breweries licensed before July 1, 2014 and production breweries licensed July 1, 2014 or later.
Legacy breweries–those licensed before July 1, 2014–could continue to operate taprooms under the existing tourism exemption so long as they continue to meet new requirements. The tourism exemption currently allows Florida breweries to operate a taproom where a brewery’s own beer and guest beers and wine can be served for consumption on premises or carry-out for consumption off premises (more on the tourism exemption in Brewers’ Law 101: Florida Brewing Licenses). Under HB 1329 existing taprooms could continue to operate this way as long as:
Manufacturers and bottlers of wine in Florida are regulated by the State of Florida and the federal government. This post discusses the state-level licensing of wineries in Florida.
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How does the State of Florida define “wine”?
Manufacturers and bottlers of wine are subject the same licensing requirements in Florida, but what does wine include for this purpose? Wine includes all beverages made from fresh fruits, berries, or grapes, either by natural fermentation or by natural fermentation with brandy added. Cider is a wine according to Florida law, so cideries must be licensed as a winery rather than a brewery. Mead and honey wine do not exactly fall within the definition of wine under Florida law, but meaderies are generally required to be licensed as wineries too.
Manufacturers of distilled spirits in Florida are regulated by the State of Florida and the federal government. This post discusses the state-level licensing of distilleries in Florida.
Florida Craft Distilleries Need the Right License
The Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverage and Tobacco (ABT) is authorized to issue separate licenses for manufacturers engaged in distilling spirits and manufacturers engaged solely in rectifying or blending distilled spirits. A DD license is required for distilling spirits directly, but the holder of a DD license may also rectify or blend distilled spirits. An ERB license is intended for manufacturers that will only be rectifying or blending spirits manufactured by a separate distillery.
To get a DD license or an ERB license, a Florida manufacturer must file the Application for New Alcoholic Beverage License (DBPR Form ABT-6001) with the ABT. The ABT application requires detailed information about the manufacturer’s premises, as well as everyone who has financial interest in the manufacturer. The license tax for either a DD license or an ERB license is currently the same price at $4,000. Because the DD license permits the manufacturer to distill spirits and also rectify or blend distilled spirits at no additional license tax, in most cases a manufacturer should obtain a DD license.
A licensed distillery may only distill spirits up to 153 proof (76.5% ABV) for sale in Florida. Spirits of 153 proof or greater may be distilled in Florida but only for sales outside the state.
A Craft Distillery Can Make Direct Sales to Consumers
Breweries are often the creation of a core group of owners. One of the owners might be the mad-scientist brewer, who loves to create new style-busting beers. Another might be the marketing genius, who believes that an beer can be sold with the right branding and marketing. Still another might be the financier, who knows a good business opportunity when he or she sees it. Bringing these personalities together to create “The Brewery” is a wonderful thing.
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To help owners come together and stay together, they need an Ownership Agreement. Not only is this good business practice, but it’s also required by the TTB as part of the Brewer’s Notice licensing process . Ownership Agreements go by different names–Operating Agreement, Shareholders Agreement, Partnership Agreement, Buy-Sell Agreement–but they all have a common goal: Provide a clear roadmap for the brewery owners to jointly manage and grow the business and to minimize the impact of conflict and adversity among owners.
Growlers—small, reusable, containers used to take tap-dispensed beer home from your favorite microbrewery—are a mainstay of craft beer culture and consumption. While craft beer is booming in Florida, the state has yet to adopt clear laws or regulations about the filling of growlers. In the Sunshine State, confusion about growlers abounds. This article addresses just one aspect of that confusion—who can fill growlers in Florida?
Brewery Taprooms Can Fill Growlers
Which license must a vendor have in Florida to sell beer, intended by the purchaser to be consumed off-premises, by filling and sealing the purchaser’s growler? It may be a straightforward question, but there is no definite answer in Florida law—neither in the Florida Statutes nor the Florida Administrative Code (the compilation of Florida’s administrative rules). Growler filling is generally permitted by brewery taprooms, which must have a CMB license to make beer and a 2COP license to sell beer or wine for consumption on or off premises. However, whether any other license holders can fill growlers is inexplicable, as demonstrated by two recent situations.
Tipple’s Brews Cannot Fill Growlers
Tipple’s Brews is a beer and wine bar and store in Gainesville, Florida. It has held a 2COP license since October 2009. According to the rules regulating the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (the ABT), which issues 2COP and other licenses, the 2COP allows the holder to sell beer and wine for consumption on the premises or in sealed containers for take-away. Tipple’s began filling growlers early in 2010. In May 2010, the ABT ordered Tipple’s to stop filling growlers. The ABT claimed that filling growlers without a manufacturer’s (CMB) license was a violation of Florida Statutes Section 562.34(1) and a felony.
Beginning April 30, 2014, the Florida manufacturers will be exempt from Florida’s sales and use tax on the purchase of industrial machinery and equipment used in Florida. To be eligible for the exemption, a manufacturer’s primary activity where the equipment will be located must fall within North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes 31, 32, and 33.
NAICS codes 31, 32, and 33 includes a broad list of manufacturing classifications, including breweries and wineries, food manufacturing (for humans or animals); textiles; book printing; screen printing; wood products; pharmaceuticals and other medical; soaps and detergents; explosives; photographic materials; plastics; tires; concrete and other building materials; computers; communications equipment; electrical fixtures; motor vehicles and other transportation; toys and games; and office supplies manufacturing. To search for a specific eligible industry, refer to http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch.
At the time of purchase, the purchaser must provide a signed certificate stating that the purchaser is entitled to the tax exemption. The Florida Department of Revenue provides a suggested form of exemption certificate.