Shortly afterbeforethe 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.
Labels on alcoholic beverage containers must comply with both U.S. and Florida laws and regulations.
The reason these laws exist is to ensure container labels accurately represent the beverage inside. Beverage manufacturers must include specific information on the product labels. Florida manufacturers must also comply with the Florida Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco’s (ABT) label registration process and, in some cases, the federal Tax and Trade Bureau’s (TTB) label approval process.
I do not have any special insight into the situation at Mile Marker, but it got me thinking about some of the legal issues the may come up when a Florida brewery, winery, or distillery closes its doors. Continue reading →
It’s not just production breweries that are driving the growth of Florida’s brewing industry. There’s a lot of good beer coming from Florida’s brewpubs. To help Florida brewpubs and their supports stay informed about the industry, and as a companion to The Florida Breweries Report, we are launching the Florida Brewpubs Report.
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.
Used With Permission from Creative Commons.
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.
Used with Permission From Creative Commons
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