Beer Bills Pending for 2014 Florida Legislative Session

The 2014 session of the Florida Legislature is two months from starting, but already two pairs of craft beer bills put growlers and beer tastings on tap.

Bills Authorizing Growlers & Tastings

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SB 406 and HB 283, identical bills in the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representative, would change the craft beer laws in two ways:

  1. Retail vendors would be allowed to sell beer in individual containers of any size (such as, 64 oz growlers). Containers must specify the manufacturer and the brand of beer. Containers must have an unbroken seal or be incapable of being immediately consumed.
  2. Manufacturers, distributors, and vendors would be allowed to conduct beer tastings on licensed premises. Tastings must be limited to and directed toward members of the general public who are of the age of legal consumption.

SB 406 was introduced by Senator Jack Latvala, representing District 20 (Pinellas County). Senator Latvala is chairperson of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee.

HB 283 was co-introduced by Representative Frank Artiles, representing District 118 (Miami-Dade) and Representative Dana Young, representing District 60 (Tampa). Representative Artiles is chairperson of the Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight.

 Bills Authorizing Tastings Only

SB 470 and HB 387, the second pair of identical bills, focus only on allowing beer tastings and with slightly different language. Licensed distributors and vendors (but not manufacturers) would be allowed to conduct beer tastings on licensed premises. Like SB 406/HB 283, tastings must be limited to and directed toward members of the general public who are of the age of legal consumption.

SB 470 was introduced by Senator Nancy Detert, representing District 28 (Sarasota County). Senator Detert is chairperson of the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

HB 387 was introduced by Representative Kathleen Passidomo, representing District 106 (Naples). Representative Passidomo is chairperson of the House Ethics & Elections Subcommittee.

 Unanswered Questions

As welcome as these bills are for the craft beer community, they do not clearly address some important questions:

  • Can breweries fill growlers with beer that they are licensed to sell on tap but do not brew themselves?
  • Can a growler with the label of a particular brewery be filled with a beer that is not brewed by that brewery?
  • Can brewpubs and beer bars fill and sell growlers?

There’s still time to see additional bills that would address these important questions.