Working with Beverage Caterers

Alcoholic beverage caterers can be great business partners for Florida breweries, wineries and distilleries. As well as supplying beer and wine for catered events, manufacturers can host catered events in their retail and manufacturing spaces, provided they follow the right regulatory steps.

Retail Sales to Licensed Caterers

Licensed alcoholic beverage caterers in Florida are unique within Florida’s Three Tier System because they are allowed to purchase beer, wine, and spirits directly from licensed vendors, instead of having to purchase from distributors. This means that a brewery taproom or winery tasting room (but not a distillers’ gift shop) can sell kegged, bottled or canned products directly to a licensed caterer.

In Florida, a licensed alcoholic beverage caterer must operate a bar with a 4COP quota license or must have a 13CT license. The 13CT license is only available to food caterers licensed by the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants. A 13CT caterer must derive at least 51% of its gross food and beverage revenue from the sale of food and nonalcoholic beverages at each catered event. Alcoholic beverages not used at a catered event must be left with the 13CT caterer’s customer or returned to the vendor.

Before selling kegs, bottles, or cans for a catered event, a brewery taproom or winery tasting room should take reasonable steps to confirm that the caterer has a 13CT license.

Hosting Catered Events

Florida breweries, wineries, and distilleries may also host catered events on their premises, but certain regulatory steps are required for events in the licensed manufacturing space.

Generally, no special steps are required where a catered event will take place in a brewery’s taproom or a winery’s tasting room. These spaces are are licensed for the retail sale of alcoholic beverages. However, distilled spirits cannot be served on spaces that are licensed for the retail sale of beer and wine only (a 2COP license, for instance).

The manufacturing, “tax unpaid” premises of a Florida brewery, winery, or distillery should not be used to host a catered event without advance approval from the federal TTB and the state ABT.

At the federal level, use of the tax unpaid premises for any purpose other than making and packaging the licensed product is considered an “alternate use.” This requires submitting a variance request to the TTB on the manufacturer’s letterhead. The variance request must specifically describe the alternate use to be conducted and the procedures intended to be implemented to ensure that tax unpaid products are safeguarded and handled appropriately. The manufacturer can request approval of periodic variances, meaning that a separate request should not be needed every time an event is to be hosted.

Florida state laws and regulations do not provide a single procedure for requesting approval of alternating uses, like hosting catered events, in the same way. Instead, two alternative procedures are available:

  • For Florida breweries and wineries with a retail vendor license, an application can be made for a temporary extension of the vendor license. This should be done by filing Form ABT-6029 with the licensing division of the appropriate ABT office.
  • For manufacturers that do not have a retail vendor license, including distilleries, a request for permission to host a catered event can be made directly to the enforcement division of the ABT office. Like the variance request to the TTB, this request should be on the manufacturer’s letterhead and should describe the event specifically, including the procedures to ensure that tax unpaid products are safeguarded and handled appropriately.

In all cases, Florida manufacturers should take appropriate steps to ensure that they have permission to utilize their tax unpaid manufacturing premises for a hosted catered event.

Are you interested in using your manufacturing premises to host catered events? Contact us to schedule a consultation with a beverage attorney.

Because we’re attorneys: Disclaimer. Updated January 31, 2023.

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