FISA Lawsuit Prompts ABT to Immediately Change Licensing Procedures

Shortly after before the Florida Independent Spirits Association (FISA) and the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) filed lawsuits accusing the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco (ABT) of improperly licensing Florida brewery taprooms (discussed in Q&A for Breweries: The FISA Lawsuit), the ABT quietly changed its procedure for how brewery applications are to be handled.

Previously, manufacturer (CMB) licenses and taproom (2COP) licenses were issued by the ABT at the district level. Having a scheduled appointment with a licensing officer in the Orlando District, for instance, meant that we could take in a completed license application and walk out with a temporary CMB or 2COP license. Even when applications were mailed in, we could expect the district office to email the temporary license to us within 7 days. That seems no longer possible.

According to licensing officers and both the Orlando District and the Tallahassee District, all new brewery licenses (CMB or 2COP) must be forwarded to the Tallahassee office for review and approval. We were not told that 2COP licenses will not be approved for new taprooms, but obviously applications will come under heightened scrutiny. We were assured, however, that the ABT will still issue temporary licenses so long as applications are complete on their face.

This new ABT procedure reportedly came from the ABT’s executive office by way of email to licensing staff throughout the state. We have made a public records request for the email, and we will make it available as soon as we can.