How to Take Advantage of Florida’s 2015 Beverage Law

Agrarian_Ale_BelGene_Blanca_at_Tap_and_GrowlerWhen Governor Rick Scott signed into law CS/SB 186, he largely ended Florida’s state of growler confusion. However, the 2015 beverage law–which is now known as Florida Law 2015-12–will do much more to improve the status of craft beverages in Florida when it becomes effective July 1, 2015. This article describes how Florida’s breweries, distilleries, distributors, and vendors can take advantage of the recent improvements to Florida’s Beverage Law.

Manufacturers and Vendors Can Fill Growlers

The 2015 Beverage Law finally legalizes the 64 oz growler in Florida. The statute authorizes growlers–containers that are filled at the point of sale–in three sizes: 32 oz, 64 oz, or 128 oz. All other containers must still be no more than 32 oz or no less than 128 oz.

Previously, the biggest question surrounding growlers was who could fill them. The Florida Law 2015-12 allows growlers to be filled by the following license-holders:

  • Production breweries that have a licensed taproom
  • Beer bars and other vendors that have a 1COP or 2COP license
  • Full liquor bars that have a quota license, such as a 4COP
  • Package stores that have a quota license, such as a 3PS

The list of authorized growler-fillers does not include 1APS vendors of beer for consumption off premises only, restaurants that have a 4COP-SRX license, or brewpubs that have a CMBP license. In all cases, the filling and selling of growlers must be completed on the licensed premises.

At the time of sale, growlers must have a unbroken seal or be incapable of being consumed immediately. All growlers must have a label that includes the following information:

  • Manufacturer
  • Brand
  • Anticipated alcohol by value (ABV)

Manufacturers can Open Multiple Taprooms

Florida Law 2015-12 takes the tourism out of the so-called Tourism Taproom Exception. The exception that allows a brewery to have a taproom on its premises no longer includes that requirement that a taproom include “other structures which promote the brewery and the tourist industry of the state,” whatever that meant.

A manufacturer that has multiple licensed brewery locations in the state can have taprooms on up to 8 of those brewery locations.

Manufacturers and Vendors Can Transport Beer, With Limitations

Florida Law 2015-12 imposes a new limit on how much beer can be transferred from one brewery location to another brewery location. Without involving a distributor, the amount of beer that can be transferred from one location to another location is limited to an amount equal to the annual production amount of the receiving location.

Unlike other licensed vendors, brewery taprooms cannot deliver beer sold in the taproom to a location outside the taproom.

Vendors, including brewery taprooms, are no longer required to have a vehicle permit to transport alcoholic beverages from a distributor to the licensed retail location.

Florida Law 2015-12 confirms that common carriers are permitted to transport alcoholic beverages.

Manufacturers, Distributors, and Vendors May Conduct Beer Sampling

Previously, only vendors could host beer tasting or sampling on their premises. Under Florida Law 2015-12, manufacturers, distributors, and importers are also allowed to conduct sampling at:

  • A location licensed for consumption on premises (for instance, a 1COP, 2COP, 4COP, or 4COP-SRX license)
  • A quota package store (3PS license)
  • A vendor licensed for sales off premises only (a 1PS license) that has at least 10,000 square feet open to the public

Only tax-paid beer can be used for the sampling. All samples must be in a tasting cup, not an unopen can or or bottle. In locations licensed for consumption off premises only (a 1PS or 3PS license), samples can be no more than 3.5 oz.

Manufacturers, distributors, and importers cannot compensate the vendor for allowing a sampling event on its premises. The manufacturer, distributor or importer conducting the sampling cannot cooperate with the vendor in advertising or include the name of the vendor in any advertising for the beer. Only one manufacturer, distributor or importer may conduct a sampling at one location at any time.

Craft Distilleries Can Sell More Bottles

Florida Law 2015-12 allows craft distilleries to sell more bottles in their gift shops. Previously, craft distilleries could sell no more than 2 bottles per person per year. Under the new law, craft distilleries can sell to each person each year the greater of:

  • 2 bottles per branded product, or
  • 4 bottles of a single branded product

The law also allows the Florida Department of Transportation to post craft distillery signs on Florida highways.