In House Bill 7075, the Florida House of Representative’s Business & Professional Regulation Subcommittee introduced a set of rules intended to clarify how Florida breweries get beer in their hands of consumers. The bill answers persistent questions about taprooms, brewpubs, beer tastings, and growlers.
Two Kinds of Taprooms Permitted
House Bill 7075 divides brewery taprooms into two categories: unlicensed taprooms and licensed taprooms.
Every Florida brewery, upon passage of HB 7075, would be permitted to operate a taproom without the requirement to obtain a vendor license. Unlicensed taprooms would be permitted to sell beer brewed on premises and beer brewed off premises in collaboration with other breweries. Collaboratively brewed beer could not account for more than 30% of taproom sales annually. Sales of guest beers, wine, or spirits would not be allowed by unlicensed taprooms. Unlicensed taprooms would be permitted to sell beer for consumption on premises and could fill growlers (see definition below) for consumption off premises. Unlicensed taprooms could hold a food services license to operate as a restaurant.
House Bill 7075 would allow Florida breweries to operate licensed taprooms in the same way that is done under current law (more on licensed taprooms in Brewers’ Law 101: Florida Brewing Licenses).
The bill would also allow a brewery with a second brewing location to operate a second taproom under the same license, and a brewery would be allowed to operate an unlimited number of unlicensed taprooms at other brewing locations. Licensed taprooms would be permitted to sell the brewery’s own beer and collaboratively brewed beer, whether brewed on premises or at another brewing location. In addition, licensed taprooms could sell guest beers. Licensed taprooms would be permitted to fill growlers with the brewery’s own beer, collaboratively brewed beer, and guest beers. Unless a licensed taproom holds a full bar quota license (also known as a 4COP License), guest beer could be sold in non-growler containers but not growlers (more on this below). Licensed taprooms would also be allowed to hold a food services license to operate as a restaurant.
Brewpubs Limited to Consumption on Premises
Brewpubs are more limited under HB 7075. Brewpubs are still permitted to produce up to 10,000 kegs of beer annually, but beer can only be sold for consumption on premises. Brewpubs would not be permitted to fill growlers or otherwise distribute beer brewed on site. Only licensed restaurants could hold a brewpub license under the proposed law.
Beer Tastings at Most Retailers
House Bill 7075 authorizes beer tastings in the same way wine tastings and liquor tastings are permitted under current law. Beer tastings would be permitted at most package stores and groceries stores that sell beer as well as bars and other establishments where beer may be consumed on premises. Tasting samples must be served in an open container of 3 ounces or less.
Filling Growlers and Non-Growlers
House Bill 7075 divides fillable containers into two categories: growlers and non-growler containers. “Growlers” are specifically defined as 32-ounce, 64-ounce, 128-ounce, 1-liter or 2-liter containers intended to hold beer. The second category–non-growler containers–includes containers up to 32 ounces or 1 gallon or more. Growlers and non-growler containers could be filled and sold by:
- Unlicensed taprooms could fill growlers and non-growler containers with the brewery’s own beer only.
- Licensed taprooms could fill growlers and non-growler containers with the brewery’s own beer and could fill non-growler containers with guest beer.
- A full liquor bar (those with a 4COP license) could fill growlers with beer on tap.
Direction for the sealing and labeling of growlers is also provided by HB 7075. A growler branded with the name and information of any brewery could be filled by any other vendor, so long as the name is covered with a new label that describes the manufacturer and brand of the beer that is in the growler.
The Game of Beer Bills
There are now 4 beer bills up for consideration in the Florida Legislature. Companion bills SB 406 and HB 283 would authorize larger growlers and authorize beer tastings at retail locations, while companion bills SB 470 and HB 387 would only authorize beer tastings (these bills are discussed in Beer Bills Pending for 2014 Florida Legislative Session). House Bill 1329, while authorizing the 64-ounce growler, would severely limit the operations of brewery taprooms and require breweries to focus on distribution (more on HB 1329 in New Beer Bill Would Drastically Change Florida Brewery Taprooms). In direct opposition to HB 1329, HB 7075 would open up the operation of brewery taprooms, provide greater flexibility for filing growlers of different sizes, and authorize beer tastings at retail locations.
The fate of HB 7075 and the other beer bills should be decided by the end of May, when 2014 Florida Legislative session is scheduled to close. In the meantime, existing breweries and breweries yet-to-open can start working on their contingency plans. How would you adapt to possible passage of HB 1329? What new opportunities would be available with passage of HB 7075?
“Chance favors only the prepared mind.”
-Louis Pasteur – “The Father of Microbiology” & author of Studies on Fermentation