Breweries | Read Time: 4 minutes

Common Zoning Challenges for Florida Beverage Manufacturers

One of the greatest challenges to opening or expanding an alcoholic manufacturing plant–whether brewery, winery, or distillery–is complying with local zoning ordinances. While many Florida communities have enacted specific craft beverage ordinances, most have not. As a result, getting that all-important zoning approval for a new or amended alcohol manufacturing or retail license can pose a time and cost burden, or worse, stop an applicant dead in its tracks. We’ve discussed zoning before: Brewers’ Law 101: Local Zoning Approval and Before Choosing a Beverage Manufacturing Location: 5 Questions. In this post, we focus on common zoning challenges faced by Florida beverage manufacturers. Manufacturing in a Commercial Zone; Retail in an Industrial Zone The business model for a Florida craft beverage manufacturer typically involves two “uses” sitting side-by-side: a manufacturing plant and a retail store. The combination of product manufacturing and on-premises sales to retail customers is unique in the commercial products industry. This uniqueness is often reflected in municipal zoning codes. The zoning codes of many Florida communities (whether towns, cities, or counties) have distinct zones for “industrial uses” and “commercial uses.” Heavy Industry and Light Industry zones are designated for manufacturing. In some cases, retail store fronts are prohibited in Industrial zones (or if not prohibited outright, subject to conditional use, as discussed below). Likewise, Commercial ones are often designated for retail stores, restaurants and bars. Zoning ordinances also prohibit “manufacturing” activities from taking place in a Commercial zone. While alcoholic beverage “manufacturing” can look like very different things–a small, neighborhood brewpub with a 1 barrel brewhouse versus a large, industrial manufacturing and canning production plant–some zoning ordinances do not recognize the difference. Unless a community’s zoning process allows some flexibility, a typical manufacturing and retail model might not work in these communities. Schools and Churches Separation Requirements Florida law and many local zoning ordinances prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages within a certain distance of churches and schools. At a minimum, Florida law requires that alcoholic beverage retailers (including taprooms, tasting rooms, and distillery gift shops) cannot be located within 500 feet of a public or private elementary school, middle school, or secondary school, unless local ordinances provide otherwise. The zoning ordinances of many Florida communities are often more restrictive than Florida law. It is typical for local ordinances to require at least 1,000 feet of separation between a alcoholic beverage retailer and a school, as well as churches and other places of public worship. Some communities also put restrictions on how close an alcoholic beverage retailer can locate near to residential areas generally. What makes compliance with schools and churches separation requirements more difficult is that fact that ordinances often define “schools”, “churches” and “separation” differently. For some communities, “schools” includes not only public and private schools, but also daycares, after-school care, and other educational facilities. “Churches” may or may not include storefront churches located in commercial centers not designated as religious use. The manner of measuring the separation between the retailer and the school or church differs among communities. For some, separation is measured from property-edge to property-edge in a straight line. For others, the distance of separation is measured from doorstep to doorstep as a pedestrian would travel while obeying roadway laws. Time-Consuming and Costly Conditional Use Procedures Many Florida communities provide some level of flexibility in compliance with otherwise rigid zoning ordinance in the form of a conditional use procedure. Generally, conditional use procedures allow an applicant to request that the local government grant an exception to allow an activity in a zone that would not otherwise be permitted (such as, retail in an Industrial zone or manufacturing in a Commercial zone) or to allow retail alcohol sales to be closer to a school, church, or neighborhood than would be allowed. Condition use procedures, however, can be costly and time consuming. In many cases, the applicant is required to pay a government fee and pay for a professionally prepared land survey. Conditional use procedures often require the application to be consider at one or more community board hearings, which are usually schedule several months in advance. It is often a requirement that the applicant, at its own expense, mail notices to residents and property owners within the area that is to be affected by the non-conforming use. Conditional use is not guaranteed. After months of time and the expenses of complying with the conditional use procedures, the applicant’s request to use a certain location for a beverage manufacturing and retail space might be denied. In cases where the applicant’s request is granted, there might be conditions or limitations imposed that impact the applicant’s business expectations, such as limits on hours of operation, limits on production capacity, or prohibitions against distribution (all are common). Do you have questions about complying with local zoning requirements in Florida? Contact us at 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.

Continue Reading
Owners | Read Time: 4 minutes

Take Investment Dollars and Keep Them

Starting a new beverage manufacturing business takes more than a good beverage, it takes money. Selling ownership shares in your business is an attractive source of start-up funding, but it’s risky. When you take money from investors in exchange for ownership, two things are true. First, your investors expect you to deliver on your promises about the success of the business. Second, federal and state securities laws make you responsible for those promises. What happens when you don’t deliver on your promises or you violate federal or state securities laws? Often you have to give investors their money back, and that’s the best case scenario.

Continue Reading
Distribution | Read Time: 3 minutes

Brewers’ Law 101: Florida Winery Licenses

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. Are you interested in opening a brewery instead? What license is required to make wine in Florida? The Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT) is authorized to issue two kinds of licenses for the production of wine in Florida. Wineries (including cideries and meaderies) that will manufacture or bottle wine in Florida may obtain an AMW license. The licensing fee for the AMW license is $1,000 per year. Wineries that will manufacture wine or cordials must obtain a BMWC license. The licensing fee for the BMWC license is $2,000 per year. How can a  winery expedite the licensing process? Florida wineries applying for an ABT license – whether AMW, BMWC, 2COP, or 4COP – have the option of applying for a temporary license. Temporary licenses are issued immediately, so long as the application for a temporary license appears complete and sufficient. This means that a winery can start making and selling wine as soon as it has obtained a federal license. The filing fee for a temporary license is 1/4 the fee for the same permanent license. 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. How do I distribute wine? Having an AMW license or a BMWC license does not authorize a winery to sell its wine directly to consumers. Florida has a relatively strict three-tier system for alcoholic beverages, the goal of which is to keep manufacturers, distributors, and retailers separate. Florida’s Tied House Evil Statute generally prohibits a winery from having any financial interest in a retail operation. However, two exceptions to the three-tier system allow Florida wineries to be licensed to sell their wine (and wine manufactured by others) directly to the public. Open a tasting room First, wineries can obtain a license to operate a tasting room as part of the winery. In addition to the AMW license or BMWC license, a Florida winery operating a tasting room must obtain a vendor license which permits the sale of wine for consumption on the premises or in sealed containers for take-away (common licenses for this purpose are the 2COP beer-and-wine only license and the 4COP quota license). A winery must file a separate ABT application for a 2COP or 4COP license. The filing fee currently ranges from $168 to $1,820 depending on the license and the county size. Get a license to sell at events Second, a certified Florida Farm Winery can obtain a license to sell its wine at Florida festivals, trade shows, expositions, and festivals. The Florida Farm Winery Program allows qualifying wineries to be certified by the Florida Department of Agriculture. A certified Florida Farm Winery must: 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. Florida wineries are also permitted to provide wine tastings on the premises of the winery. Wine tastings must be limited to and directed toward the general public of the age of legal consumption. Questions? Do you have any questions about licensing a winery in Florida or any other legal questions about starting up or operating a licensed winery? We’re happy to help. Contact us at

Continue Reading
Florida | Read Time: 3 minutes

Brewers’ Law 101: Florida Brewery Licenses & Florida Beer Laws

Brewers and breweries in Florida are regulated on both the state and federal levels. In this post, we will discuss the regulation at the state level. Are you interested in opening a winery instead? Florida Brewery Licenses To brew, you need a Florida CMB or CMPB License Brewers in Florida who want to make beer and sell it must have a CMB license or CMBP license. CMB stands for “Cereal Malt Beverage”. The CMB license or CMBP is issued by the Florida Division of Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco (ABT), a division of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The CMB license is authorized by Florida Statutes Section 563.02(2). The brewpub exception is authorized by Florida Statutes Section 561.221(3), which contains numerous restrictions. Fill out the DBPR ABT 6001 form To get a CMB license or CMBP license, a Florida brewer must file the Application for New Alcoholic Beverage License (DBPR Form ABT-6001) with the ABT (in addition to federal filing requirements). The ABT application requires detailed information about the brewery premises and everyone having a financial interest in the brewery. The annual fee for a CMB license is currently $3,000, and for a CMBP license the annual fee is $500. In additional to the annual licensing fee, a brewery with a CMB or CMBP license must maintain a tax bond of at least $20,000. Florida Beer Laws How to serve beer at your brewery For brewers wanting to sell beer directly to the public, having only a CMB license isn’t enough. Florida has a relatively strict three-tier system for alcoholic beverages, the goal of which is to keep manufacturers, distributors, and retailers separate. Florida’s Tied House Evil Statute generally prohibits a brewer from having any financial interest in a retail operation. However, two exceptions to the three-tier system allow Florida brewers to be licensed to sell their beer (and the beer of others’) directly to the public. Open a taproom First, a Florida brewer can apply for a license to operate a taproom as part of the brewery. This exception makes possible taprooms according to Florida Statutes Section 561.221(2). In addition to the CMB license, a Florida brewer operating a taproom must obtain a vendor license which permits the sale of beer for consumption on the premises or in sealed containers for take-away (common licenses for this purpose are the 2COP beer-and-wine only license and the 4COP quota license). A brewer must file a separate ABT application for a 2COP or 4COP license. The filing fee currently ranges from $168 to $1,820 depending on the license and the county size. Get licensed as a brewpub Second, a retailer licensed to sell beer on its premises can be licensed as a brewpub, in which case it can make its own beer.  Despite the similarity in the name of the license to a CMB, the CMBP license is obtained by filing a retailer’s application for a brewpub special qualification for the consumption on premise (2COP or 4COP in most cases) license. It comes with specific restrictions. The brewpub cannot make more than 10,000 kegs (5,000 barrels) of beer each year, and the beer can only be served on the brewpub’s premises. None of the beer can be sold to a distributor. Questions? If you are a brewer and have any questions with this process or any other legal question with your start-up or existing brewery, email us at and we will be happy to assist you.

Continue Reading