Florida | Read Time: 3 minutes

Mobile Alcohol Sales Are (Mostly) Not Permitted in Florida

Imagine a business–call it Mobile Bar–that brings the bar to you. You hire Mobile Bar for a reception, party or other event held at your home, office, or other private property. Mobile Bar has a cool, old trailer, truck, or standing bar that it brings to your location. Mobile Bar handles buying all the beer, wine and liquor and bringing it to your event. Mobile Bar provides the bartender, who hands out beer, pours wine, and mixes cocktails. This is a cash bar, so Mobile Bar handles the sales too. Mobile Bar sounds great, right? You might have even seen Florida businesses that provide this exact same service. Here’s the problem: Mobile Bar, and mobile alcohol vendor services like it, are not legal in the State of Florida. The Florida Beverage Laws do not support independent, mobile alcohol sales. In other words, there is no license available in Florida that allows the licenseholder to sell to the general public primarily beer, wine or liquor, whether in sealed containers or by the drink, from non-fixed locations, whether on public or private property. And selling alcoholic beverages without a license is a crime in Florida (See Florida Statutes Section 562.12). Mobile Alcohol Sales Have a Place Problem The Florida Beverage Laws (Florida Statutes Chapters 561-565) make it clear that no person or company can sell alcoholic beverages without a license. Two criteria are primarily important to getting a license: the licensed individuals and the licensed premises. First, all of the individuals who will be involved in owning or managing an alcoholic beverage business must be identified an provide information about themselves (see Identifying the Interested Parties of a Florida License Applicant). Second, the location where alcohol will be sold and consumed–the licensed premises–must be identified and described in detail. The Florida Beverage Laws and regulations require that the premises be suitable for selling alcohol, including compliance with local zoning ordinances. Also, the licenseholder must show that it has legal control over the licensed premises, at least while alcohol is being sold and consumed. This means that the licenseholder must own the premises, have a lease to the premises, or have some other contract giving the licenseholder control over all sales and consumption of alcohol on the premises. The Florida Beverage Laws will only grant the right to sell alcohol to the individuals who can control its consumption in a specific place and only if local laws allow alcohol to be sold in that place. These location-specific licensing requirements are in most cases at odds with the purpose of a mobile bar service–to provide limited alcohol sales, on private property, for events organized by someone else. To be clear: the Florida Beverage Laws do not prohibit renting a cool old truck, trailer, or standing bar for use by a private party giving away alcohol at a hosted event. But that’s a much different business model than mobile alcohol sales. When it comes to selling alcohol in Florida, the location matters a lot. If Mobile Bar’s business is centered on selling alcohol at places that are not approved for alcohol sales, then it’s a business that does not work under the Florida Beverage Laws. Some Limited Exceptions Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, including the Florida Beverage Laws’ prohibition on mobile alcohol sales. There are some licenses available that do allow services mobile alcohol sales, for instance alcohol catering by a quota licenseholder (see Alcohol Catering with Florida Quota License) or licensed alcohol caterer (see Working with Beverage Caterers). But the limitations on these exceptions are significant and put them in a much different business model than our fictional Mobile Bar describe above. The following table briefly describes the most relevant “exceptions” to the Florida Beverage Laws’ prohibition on mobile alcohol sales and the limitations on those exceptions. See the Florida ABT’s Licenses and Permits for Alcoholic Beverages for a complete list of available licenses. Exception (License Class) Limitations Food Caterers (13CT) Only available to licensed food caterers; must derive at least 51% of food and beverage revenue from sales of food and non-alcoholic beverages; sales of alcohol only permitted at events the same caterer is providing food catering Quota License Holders (QUOTA) Only limited number of quota licenses are available per county Temporary Permit (ODP) Only available to bona fide non-profit organizations or municipalities; limited to 12 permits per year for events not exceeding 3 days at a time Public Fair (FEX) Only available to organized public fairs and expositions in connection with events held on the fairgrounds Mobile Vehicles (X) Sales permitted only to passengers; vehicle must be engaged in interstate commerce or travel between fixed terminals and on a fixed schedule Do you have any questions about mobile alcohol sales in Florida? Contact us at contact@brewerlong.com to schedule a consultation with a beverage attorney. Because we’re attorneys: Disclaimer.

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ABT | Read Time: < 1 minute

Searchable Penalty Guidelines Table

What happens when a Florida licensed beverage company violates the Florida Beverage Law? In 1994, the ABT issued penalty guidelines concerning single and repeated violations of the Florida Beverage Law. While these penalty guidelines have not been updated to reflect all changes to the law since 1994, it is a helpful guide to the ABT’s disciplinary actions. Unfortunately, the official publication of the penalty guidelines (available on the  Florida Department of State website) contains a non-searchable table of violations and penalties. To make life easier for the folks who need to understand these guidelines, we have created a searchable reproduction of the table. Find the searchable Florida Beverage Law Penalty Guidelines under the Resources tab or by clicking this link:  Florida Beverage Law Penalty Guidelines. Do you have any questions about the Florida Beverage Law penalty guidelines? Contact us at contact@brewerlong.com to schedule a consultation with a beverage attorney. Because we’re attorneys: Disclaimer.

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Brands | Read Time: 2 minutes

Alcoholic Beverage Contract Manufacturing in Florida: Two Model Processes

Sometimes an alcoholic beverage brand developer wants to focus on developing and promoting a product brand and leave the manufacturing to someone else (sometimes called “white labeling”). This can mean good business for the manufacturer too. Whether the product is classified a beer, wine, or distilled spirits, a variety of contract manufacturing arrangements are available in Florida. This article describes two model contract manufacturing arrangements: (1) contract manufacturing with a licensed brand owner, and (2) contract manufacturing with an unlicensed brand owner. Contract Manufacturing with Licensed Brand Owner Brand owners that have a Florida manufacturer (CMB, AMW, or DD) license or a Florida Broker-Sales Agent (BSA) license can contract with a contract manufacturer to make and package the products and deliver them to a licensed distributor. This is often the best arrangement when the brand owner wants to take an active role in the supply process and wants to designate its own distribution partners. In this arrangement, the contractor sells the finished products to the licensed brand owner and delivers possession directly to the distributor. For the brand owner, this means that it can collect payment directly from its own distributors. For the contractor, this means that it is not required to add the brand owner to its own manufacturing license. Contract Manufacturing with Unlicensed Brand Owner In some cases, the brand owner does not have a Florida manufacturer license or BSA license. This might be the case where the brand owner is content to let its products be sold through the contract manufacturer’s own distribution partners. In this arrangement, the brand owner grants to the contract manufacturer a license to make the products, and the contract manufacturer pays the brand owner a licensing royalty. For the brand owner, this means that it will be paid directly by the contractor. For the contractor, it means that the brand owner because an Interested Party that must be included on its manufacturing license. Do you have any questions about alcoholic beverage contract manufacturing in Florida? Contact us at contact@brewerlong.com to schedule a consultation with a beverage attorney. Because we’re attorneys: Disclaimer.

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ABT | Read Time: 5 minutes

2021 Florida Craft Distilleries Law: 5 Unanswered Questions

We reviewed the 2021 Florida Craft Distilleries Law in two prior blog posts–2021 Florida Craft Distilleries Law: General Overview and 2021 Florida Craft Distilleries Law: Destination Entertainment Venues–but questions remain. Following are just five questions we have about the new law. Question #1: Can new Florida craft distillery apply directly for the DD(CD) license? It is unclear whether a new craft distillery must first obtain a Florida distillery (DD) license and only then can request designation as a craft distillery (DD(CD)). Concerning licensing of a craft distillery, the 2021 Florida Distilleries Law added the following statutory provision: A distillery may not operate as a craft distillery until the distillery has provided to the [Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco] written notification that it meets the criteria specified in paragraph (1)(b). Upon the division’s receipt of the notification and its verification that the distillery meets all such criteria, the division shall add the designation of craft distiller on the distillery’s license. Fla. Stat. S. 565.03(2)(a) (2021) The answer to this question is worth $3,000. That is, the annual license fee for a DD license is $4,000, whereas the annual license fee for a DD(CD) license is $1,000. Will the ABT require a new applicant to first pay $4,000 to obtain a DD license before requesting the “craft distillery” designation, or will the ABT allow an applicant to provide the craft distillery written notification at the time of application and pay only $1,000? Question #2: Can Florida breweries with a craft distillery license sell distilled products from their taproom? The 2021 Florida Craft Distilleries Law has already generated strong interest among licensed breweries and wineries wanting to also manufacture and sell distilled products. Nearly all Florida breweries and wineries have an adjoining taproom or tasting room with a vendor license–most often, a 2COP (beer and wine, consumption on premises or carryout) license. Now that Florida craft distilleries are authorized to sell their own distilled products, for consumption on premises, from a “gift shop or tasting room” attached to the distillery, can that be the same space as the brewery taproom or winery tasting room? Where the brewery taproom or winery tasting room has the 2COP license, the answer is probably no–at least until the ABT says otherwise. The premises of a license–the physical space covered by a license–is significant under the Florida Beverage Law. It is unlawful to sell particular alcoholic beverages–whether beer, wine, or distilled spirits– except on the premises covered by the license. See Fla. Stat. S. 562.02. Generally, one licensed premises cannot overlap another licensed premises. The 2021 Florida Craft Distilleries Law authorizes retail sales of distilled spirits as part of the DD(CD) manufacturing license itself, meaning that the distillery’s gift shop/tasting room must be part of the licensed distillery itself. That is, a craft distillery that is attached to a Florida brewery should be permitted to make sales from its owned tasting room that is covered by the craft distillery license, but probably not from a 2COP licensed taproom attached to the brewery. However, the Florida Beverage Law supports at least two exceptions. First, a brewery or winery with a craft distillery, that also has a 4COP (beer, wine, and liquor) licensed taproom or tasting room, should be able to transfer its own distilled products to the 4COP licensed premises for sale under that license. Nothing prohibits a brewery’s taproom having a 4COP quota license or a 4COP-SFS restaurant license. Second, Florida law does allow “special low proof products”, however derived, distilled, mixed, or fermented and which contain less than 6 percent alcohol by volume, to be sold by 2COP licensed vendors. See Fla. Stat. S. 564.06(5)(b). However, the ABT’s existing rule concerning these special low proof products is much more restrictive, limiting the definition of special low proof products to “products sealed by the manufacturer and offered for sale to vendors through licensed distributors in the originally sealed containers.” FAC Rule 61A-3.050. Particularly in light of the 2021 Florida Craft Distilleries Law, this rule may require modification. Question #3: How does a craft distillery obtain a permit to regularly participate in farmers markets? Under the 2021 Florida Craft Distilleries Law, craft distilleries may providing tastings and sales at organized, including farmers markets. The entire statutory provision is here: Craft distilleries may conduct tastings and sales of distilled spirits produced by the craft distilleries at Florida fairs, trade shows, farmers markets, expositions, and festivals. The division shall issue permits to craft distilleries for such tastings and sales. A craft distillery must pay all entry fees and must have a distillery representative present during the event. The permit is limited to the duration and physical location of the event Fla. Stat. 565.17(2) (2021). How will craft distilleries apply for the required permit? Will one permit allow a craft distillery to participate in the same farmers market every week, or will separate permits be required? What will be the cost of each permit? The ABT will have to provide answers to these questions. Question #4: How will Florida craft distilleries comply with the Florida agricultural products requirement? Effective July 1, 2026, Florida craft distilleries will be required to ensure that a minimum of 60 percent of their total finished branded products are distilled in Florida and contain one or more Florida agricultural products. Our sister website and blog, Groves Law, which focuses on the law of Florida agribusiness, already did a deep-dive into what might constitute “Florida agricultural products” for this purpose, but hopefully additional guidance will be provided by the ABT. In addition to what constitutes “Florida agricultural products”, how will the ABT verify that this requirement is met? What records will the distillery be required to keep? Are “total finished branded products” counted by volume or by package? There are a lot of practical questions that must be answered before this requirement becomes effective? Question #5: How many destination entertainment venues (DEVs) will we see? A large part of the 2021 Florida Craft Distilleries Law is focused on […]

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Florida | Read Time: 3 minutes

Making & Selling Ready-to-Drink Cocktails in Florida

Ready-to-drink (RTD) or canned cocktails are growing in popularity. According to Grand View Research, the global RTD cocktails market is anticipated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.1% from 2020 through 2027. Kevin Roberts, the executive vice president of supplier engagement for the alcohol distributor Breakthru Beverage Group, said “You have a convenience trend happening, you have a lifestyle thing happening, and then you have this can phenomenon.” (The Rise of Ready-to-Drink Cocktails) RTD Cocktails Can be Made by Licensed Florida Manufacturers Alcoholic beverage manufacturers in Florida can make RTD cocktails, provided they have the right manufacturing license for the type of alcohol. The key is the type (or types) of alcohol that are included in the products. Florida wineries (holding the federal winery permit and state AMW license) can make and package RTD cocktails in which the alcoholic content is only from fruit wine or mead. Other than standard orange wine (OTSOW) is a versatile ingredient that is often used in the “mocktini” variety of RTD cocktails. Florida breweries (holding the federal Brewer’s Notice permit and state CMB license) can make and package RTD cocktails in the category of malt beverages. This includes hard seltzers, which use sugar as a permissible substitute to malt. RTD cocktails that include distilled spirits or any other alcoholic ingredient that is not wine or malt beverage can only be manufactured and packaged in Florida by a licensed distillery (holding the federal DSP permit and state DD or DD(CD) license). Florida Distributes Must Have the Right Type of License for the RTD Cocktails’ Alcohol Class Florida distributors that hold a federal wholesaler permit and a state JDBW (beer and wine only) distribution license are limited to handling RTD cocktails that are classified as wine or malt beverage, depending on their ingredients. For RTD cocktails that contain distilled spirits or any other alcoholic ingredient, a Florida distributor must hold a state KLD (beer, wine, and spirits) distribution license. Low-Proof RTD Cocktails Can be Sold by a Large Number of Florida Licensed Retailers When it comes to retail sales of RTD cocktails, the amount of alcohol matters. Special low-proof products—including distilled, mixed, or fermented products which contain less than 6% alcohol by volume (ABV)–may be purchased by licensed vendors holding a 2COP or 2APS license (that is, a beer or wine license). This means that a KLD licensed distributor can sell the products to beer-and-wine vendors. See Florida Statutes Section 564.06(5)(b) and Florida Administrative Code Rule 61A-3.050. This is what allows spirits-based RTD cocktails to be sold in convenience stores and grocery stores. For RTD cocktails that contain 6% ABV or greater, the type of alcohol is controlling. Retailers with a 2COP or 2APS license can only selling high-proof RTD cocktails if the are in the category of wine or malt beverage. Any other type of high-proof RTD cocktails, including those containing distilled spirits, can only be sold by retailers that hold a 4COP or 4APS quote license. Do you have questions about making or selling RTD cocktails in Florida? We’d love to discuss it with you. Contact us at contact@brewerlong.com to schedule a consultation. Because we’re attorneys: This blog post is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis as of the date of publication. We disclaim any duty to update or correct any information contained in this blog post, including errors, even if we are notified about them. To the fullest extent permitted by law, we disclaim all representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied with respect to the information contained in this blog post, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title, non-infringement, accuracy, completeness, and timeliness. We will not be liable for damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your use of or reliance on this blog post, including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, and punitive damages. You agree to use this blog post at your own risk. Regarding your particular circumstances, we recommend that you consult your own legal counsel–hopefully BrewerLong.

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Beverage Legislation | Read Time: 2 minutes

Florida Beverage Legislation: 2021 Pre-Session Review of Beverage Bills

The 2021 Session of the Florida Legislature will include consideration of a number of bills affecting breweries, wineries, distilleries, retailers and consumers. The 2021 regular session of the Florida Legislature kicks off Tuesday, March 2, 2021. This 2-month session will see the consideration of a number of bills (though not as many as in prior years) that could affect the Florida beverage industry as soon as July. For a refresher on how a bill goes from being introduced to becoming law in Florida, check out the Florida Senate’s Idea-to-Law Flowchart and the Florida League of City’s short video: Florida’s Legislative Process 101. The following chart provides a summary of this session’s beverage-focused bills. We’ll check back in on the status of these bills at end of the session. Do you have questions about how these proposed changes to Florida Beverage Law could affect our business or your plans for a new beverage business? Contact us at contact@brewerlong.com to schedule a consultation. Because we’re attorneys: This blog post is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis as of the date of publication. We disclaim any duty to update or correct any information contained in this blog post, including errors, even if we are notified about them. To the fullest extent permitted by law, we disclaim all representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied with respect to the information contained in this blog post, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title, non-infringement, accuracy, completeness, and timeliness. We will not be liable for damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your use of or reliance on this blog post, including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, and punitive damages. You agree to use this blog post at your own risk. Regarding your particular circumstances, we recommend that you consult your own legal counsel–hopefully BrewerLong.

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ABT | Read Time: 4 minutes

The 3 Requirements for Florida Restaurant’s to Sell Beer, Wine & Liquor

Florida restaurants that want to sell beer, wine and liquor–whether at a restaurant bar or to seated customers–must have a 4COP-SFS (formerly known as 4COP-SRX) license issued by the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco (ABT) pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 561.20(2)(a)4. To get a 4COP-SFS license, a Florida restaurant must meet the following three requirements: Maintain at least 2,500 square feet of service area. Have the capacity to serve meals to at least 150 persons at one time. Derive at least 51% of its gross food and beverage revenues from food and nonalcoholic beverages. Requirement 1: At Least 2,500 SF of Service Area The Service Area Requirement means that only restaurants of a minimum size are permitted to have a 4COP-SFS license. However, “service area” is generally interpreted by the ABT very broadly. The dining room is part of the service area, of course, but the kitchen is also. So are office and storage spaces. So are the restrooms. Outdoor seating is also part of the service area, as long as the restaurant has the legal right to use the space (according to the lease or deed). The only part of a restaurant’s floor plan that is not part of the service area, for purposes of meeting the Service Area Requirement, is any part that (1) is not covered by the restaurant’s Public Food Service (PFS) license issued by the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants, or (2) is covered by a different alcoholic beverage license, such as a manufacturing license (for a brewery or winery), bottle club license, or package store license. Requirement 2: Serve Meals to 150 Persons at One Time Only restaurants that are capable of serving meals to at least 150 persons at one time are allowed to get and keep a 4COP-SFS license. The ABT has interpreted this requirement to mean serving at least 150 persons full meals that are consumed one the premises. In other words, it is not enough that a restaurant have a kitchen capable of preparing 150 meals at one time. The restaurant must also have tables, chairs, servers and service capacity that is sufficient to serve those meals to 150 persons present in the restaurant at the same time. In other words, a restaurant’s robust carryout or Uber Eats business is not enough. To determine whether a restaurant meets the 150 Persons Requirement, the ABT generally takes into account three sources of information: The number of seats reflected on the restaurant’s Public Food Service Establishment (PFS) license; The maximum building occupancy allowed by the fire marshal; and The maximum capacity rating provided by the local water treatment and sewer authority. Requirement 3: 51% of Revenue from Food and Nonalcoholic Beverages A restaurant that is granted a 4COP-SFS license must continue to derive at least 51% of its food and beverage gross revenue from the sale of food and nonalcoholic beverages. The ABT confirms that this requirement is met by by reviewing the restaurant’s sales records. When a new 4COP-SFS is issued, the ABT will review the restaurant’s food and beverage sales records after the first 60 or 90 days. If those records show that more than 49% of revenue comes from alcoholic beverage sales, the ABT will generally allow the restaurant another 60 to 90 days to show compliance with the 51% Sales Requirement. After that additional time, if the restaurant’s records still reflect that more than 49% of revenue comes from alcoholic beverage sales, then the 4COP-SFS license will be canceled. In that event, the restaurant must choose among: (1) purchasing a 4COP quota license (for which there is a limited number per county), (2) applying for a 2COP beer and wine only license, or (3) no alcoholic beverage license. On an annual basis, the ABT will review the restaurant’s food and beverage sales records to confirm that it continues to meet the 51% Sales Requirement. 4COP-SFS License Does Not Allow Package Sales An important limitation of the 4COP-SFS license is that it is limited by statute to sales of alcoholic beverages for consumption on sales only. That is, a 4COP-SFS licensed restaurant is statutory prohibited from making package sales of beer, wine, or liquor for consumption off premises. For breweries and wineries, this would prohibit filling growlers or sales of canned or bottled products. There are a couple exceptions to the statutory prohibition against packaged sales. First, partially consumed wine bottles can be resealed and taken home by the customer. Second, the Florida Governor’s temporary (but seemingly permanent) emergency order allows 4COP-SFS licensed restaurants to sell alcohol to go during the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you have questions about retail alcoholic beverage licenses for Florida restaurants? We’d love to discuss it with you. Contact us at contact@brewerlong.com to schedule a consultation. Because we’re attorneys: This blog post is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis as of the date of publication. We disclaim any duty to update or correct any information contained in this blog post, including errors, even if we are notified about them. To the fullest extent permitted by law, we disclaim all representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied with respect to the information contained in this blog post, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title, non-infringement, accuracy, completeness, and timeliness. We will not be liable for damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your use of or reliance on this blog post, including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, and punitive damages. You agree to use this blog post at your own risk. Regarding your particular circumstances, we recommend that you consult your own legal counsel–hopefully BrewerLong.

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ABT | Read Time: 3 minutes

Strategies for Licensing Remote Taprooms in Florida

In most cases, a craft brewery in Florida consists of a single structure divided into two parts. One part is the brewery, which has the required federal and state licenses to make beer. The other part is the taproom, which has a state license to sell beer for consumption on premises (and might also be licensed as a restaurant). As required by federal and state law, the brewery and the taproom are physically separate to ensure that patrons cannot have direct access to tax unpaid beer. What happens when the structure that contains the brewery cannot accommodate a separate taproom? Or, what if the the brewing company would like to have a separate taproom that is across the street, or across town? Here are two licensing strategies that allow brewing companies to support taprooms that are not directly contiguous to the brewery. Strategy #1: The Single, Divided Complex The Florida Beverage Law (specifically, Florida Statutes Section 561.221(2)(a)) allows a brewing company to have a taproom that is not directly contiguous to the brewery, provided its is part of a single complex that is divided by not more than one public road or highway. “Single complex” is not defined by the Florida Beverage Law, so the term should have its ordinary, but imprecise, meaning. A single complex generally refers to a collection of separate parts that work together for a common purpose. A building that houses a brewery and a taproom is clearly a single complex. But a single complex could be created when a brewery and taproom, while not within the same building, are close enough in proximity and operations that they operate together. To qualify for licensing, a single, but divided, brewery-taproom complex cannot be divided by more than one public road or highway. This means that a taproom can stand directly across the street from the brewery. But can the taproom stand across the street and several building’s removed from the brewery? It’s unclear, and the determination would be made by the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverage and Tobacco (ABT). Strategy #2: Remote Manufacturing Space and Taproom For brewery companies that wish to locate a remote taproom that is outside the immediate area of the brewery, the single, divided complex clearly will not suffice. An alternative strategy is for the brewery company to license the remote location as both a manufacturing space and a taproom. A brewery company is permitted to have additional licensed manufacturing spaces, and each of those separate manufacturing spaces can have attached to it its own licensed taproom. Requiring a separate manufacturing license in the remote location does increase the licensing cost, but there are two mitigating factors. First, while the remote location must have a separate manufacturing license, it is not required to actually conduct any manufacturing. In fact, there is no requirement that the remote location have manufacturing equipment in order to maintain the manufacturing license. Second, the remote location could have a separate brewery (CMB) license or it could have a winery (AMW) license. Both are manufacturing license, both allow a taproom to be located contiguously to the licensed manufacturing space, and the annual licensing fee for the AMW license is one-third the amount of the CMB license ($1,000 versus $3,000). Note, however, using AMW licenses for this strategy allows the licenseholder to have only three (3) taprooms, whereas the CMB license allows for up to eight (8). There is a major downside to the remote manufacturing space and taproom strategy: All beer supplied to the location must be through a licensed distributor, unless the remote location produces some amount beer itself. However, if the remote location does produce beer, an equal amount can be supplied by the brewing company’s other locations directly without going through a distributor. Do you have questions about brewery and taproom licensing? Contact us at contact@brewerlong.com to schedule a consultation. Because we’re attorneys: This blog post is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis as of the date of publication. We disclaim any duty to update or correct any information contained in this blog post, including errors, even if we are notified about them. To the fullest extent permitted by law, we disclaim all representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied with respect to the information contained in this blog post, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title, non-infringement, accuracy, completeness, and timeliness. We will not be liable for damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your use of or reliance on this blog post, including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, and punitive damages. You agree to use this blog post at your own risk. Regarding your particular circumstances, we recommend that you consult your own legal counsel–hopefully BrewerLong.

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ABT | Read Time: 4 minutes

Alcoholic Beverage Importers and Exporters in Florida

Like alcoholic beverage manufacturers, distributors, and vendors, importers and exporters are subject to strict regulations and licensing by the federal government and the State of Florida. What Florida Importers & Exporters Can and Cannot Do In the alcoholic sales channel, importers play the role of getting products from overseas through US Customs and into the hands of distributors. Licensed Florida importers are permitted to buy alcoholic beverages from manufacturers and distributors outside Florida and sell those products to licensed Florida manufacturers and distributors. Importers are not permitted to take possession of the alcoholic beverages they buy and sell. Rather, the products that an importer purchases must be shipped directly to a manufacturer or distributor. Florida exporters serve the purpose of getting Florida-manufactured products into the hands of wholesalers and other buyers outside the United States. A Florida brewery, winery, or distillery is allowed to export its own products (rather than working through a separate exporter), but the manufacturer still must comply with Federal and state export licensing and regulatory requirements. Florida importers and exporters cannot make sales directly to vendors or retail customers, with only two exceptions. Exception #1: a Florida importer that is also licensed as a Florida distributor can sell imported products to vendors. Exception #2: a Florida exporter that is also licensed as a Florida manufacturer can sell its products to retail customers in a licensed taproom, tasting room, or gift shop. When it comes to Florida’s Three Tier System, importers and non-manufacturing exporters are generally classified in the “distributor” tier. As such, they are prohibited from having a financial or controlling interest in either a manufacturer or vendor licensed in Florida (discussed in numerous other posts). A question that is often asked: Can a Florida importer purchase beer, wine, or liquor from outside the United States and sell it directly to customers via the internet? The answer is clearly no. Federal and State Licensing Requirements Importers must hold a Basic Importer Permit issued by the federal TTB, and they must hold a Florida Importer or Broker/Sales Agent license. The federal Basic Importer Permit does not require paying a license fee or maintaining a tax bond. A Florida Importer license can be issued to a non-resident person or company, but a Florida Importer must have a Florida office address. The Florida Importer license requires payment of an annual licensing fee (currently, $500 per year) but does not require a tax bond. In addition to holding a Florida Importer or Broker/Sales Agent license, it might be necessary for an importer to apply to the Florida ABT as the “primary American source of supply” (PASS) for an importer product (See Florida Statutes Section 564.045 and Section 565.095). Importers can only purchase wine or liquor products from the PASS, unless the importer is the PASS. The PASS is the manufacturer, bottler, or legally authorized exclusive agent that is the source closest to the manufacturer in the channel of commerce from which an American distributor can obtain the product. A foreign manufacturer or bottler can register as the PASS itself, in which case it will also be the brand registrant. Where the foreign manufacturer or bottler cannot or does not register as the PASS, the importer can apply to the Florida ABT to be designated as the PASS, in which case the importer will be the brand registrant. Florida-based exporters must hold a Basic Wholesaler Permit issued by the federal TTB, and they must register as an Exporter with the Florida ABT. Florida Exporter registration involves essentially the same steps as applying for a Florida beverage license, but there is no registration fee. The federal Basic Wholesaler Permit and Florida Exporter registration are requirements even for a Florida manufacturer that wishes to export its products by selling directly to non-US buyer. Neither the federal Basic Wholesaler Permit nor the Florida Exporter registration requires paying a licensing fee or maintaining a tax bond. Responsibility for Federal and State Regulations and Taxes At the federal level, regulations for importers are mostly concerned with paying excise taxes, confirming the importer products’ country of origin, and complying with federal labeling requirements. Importers are responsible for paying federal excise taxes on imported products, which must be paid before products are allowed to clear US Customs. Wine importers are also required to comply with specific product certifications requirements. Florida regulations that apply to importers focus on enforcing importers’ position in the Three Tier System. Florida importers are required to file monthly operations reports with the Florida ABT, but importers do not generally pay Florida excise taxes. Florida excise taxes on products that are sold to a Florida distributor are paid by the distributor. In comparison, there are relatively few Federal and State of Florida regulations that apply to exported products. Under Federal regulations, exported products must be marked “Export.” Exported products are not subject to Federal or state excise taxes. Federal regulations provide specific requirements for export sales of taxpaid products and tax unpaid products. Exporters must also pay close attention to the laws and regulations of the countries to which they are exporting. The federal TTB provides some guidance about the requirements of several countries. Do you have questions about importing or exporting alcoholic beverages in Florida? Contact us at contact@brewerlong.com to schedule a 15-minute introductory call at no charge. Because we’re attorneys: This blog post is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis as of the date of publication. We disclaim any duty to update or correct any information contained in this blog post, including errors, even if we are notified about them. To the fullest extent permitted by law, we disclaim all representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied with respect to the information contained in this blog post, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title, non-infringement, accuracy, completeness, and timeliness. We will not be liable for damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your use of or reliance on […]

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Distribution | Read Time: 3 minutes

Florida Farm Wineries: Operating in All Three Tiers

Florida’s Three Tier System is a source of constant frustration for most of Florida’s alcoholic beverage and manufacturers. Brewers, distilleries, and (most) wineries are prohibited from distributing their own products to retail vendors. Florida breweries and distilleries are prohibited from selling their products to online customers. Florida distilleries can have gift shops, but they are prohibited from selling beverages to customers for consumption on premises. Unlike other alcoholic beverage industry members, Florida Farm Wineries are allowed to operate in all three tiers. Florida Farm Wineries Can Do It All Florida Farm Wineries are uniquely allowed to hold a Florida manufacturing license and a distribution license. Florida Statutes Section 561.24 generally prohibits distilleries and wineries from being licensed as a distributor in Florida. However, the statute specifically provides: “This section does not apply to any winery qualifying as a certified Florida Farm Winery under s. 599.004.” Florida Farm Wineries, like all wineries in Florida, are authorized to have up to three retail license for tasting rooms that are contiguous to the manufacturing premises. Tasting rooms can make sales of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, and distilled spirits) for consumption on premises and/or carryout, depending on the vendor license. Whether or not it has a licensed tasting room, a Florida Farm Winery may be issued a permit allowing it to conduct tasting and sales of its wine at Florida fairs, trade shows, expositions, and festivals. Florida Farm Wineries, like all wineries in Florida, may also make online sales and ship their products to retail customers in Washington D.C. and 47 other states. See How to Build a Direct-to-Consumer Florida Beverage Company. Requirements to be a Florida Farm Winery To qualify under the Florida Farm Winery Program, a winery must meet certain requirements: Produce or sell less than 250,000 gallons of wine annually, 60% or more of which is made from state agricultural products; Maintain at least 5 acres of owned or managed land in Florida which produces the grapes or other product used in producing wine; Be open to the public for tours, tastings, and sales at least 30 hours each week; and File the annual application and pay the annual registration fee of $100. The Florida Farm Winery Program is not only available to wineries making grape wine. The program is equally available to cideries, meadaries, and makers of wine from fresh fruit, berries, or other agricultural products. In each case, however, at least 60% of the wine must come from Florida agricultural products. Florida wineries that meet the requirements of the Florida Farm Winery Program must apply for certification by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Do you have questions about operating as a Florida Farm Winery? Contact us at contact@brewerlong.com to schedule a 15-minute introductory call at no charge. Because we’re attorneys: This blog post is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis as of the date of publication. We disclaim any duty to update or correct any information contained in this blog post, including errors, even if we are notified about them. To the fullest extent permitted by law, we disclaim all representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied with respect to the information contained in this blog post, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title, non-infringement, accuracy, completeness, and timeliness. We will not be liable for damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your use of or reliance on this blog post, including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, and punitive damages. You agree to use this blog post at your own risk. Regarding your particular circumstances, we recommend that you consult your own legal counsel–hopefully BrewerLong.

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