On May 2, 2014, the Florida Legislature failed to complete voting on a Senate-passed bill that would have added some regulations to Florida’s craft beer industry. The debate was originally about legalizing growlers in Florida — a growler is a 64-ounce jug which people can fill with their favorite craft beers on tap, usually directly from the brewery. This practice is legal in most states. But Don Gaetz, president of the Florida Senate, did not want to allow it, amid speculation that he is being restrained by one of his major political donors, a distributor for Anheuser-Busch InBev, the giant producer of such beers as Budweiser and Stella Artois. It seems that the company does not want people to be able to buy large amounts of local craft beer, fearing it will cut into sales. But are craft beer enthusiasts really the sort of people who are regular drinkers of Bud Light? Hardly.
As the bill in question, Senate Bill 1714, passed down the line, it stated that Florida craft brewers that sell more than 2,000 kegs would have to sell their product to distributors, then buy it back for growler distribution. This all means that craft beer prices would rise considerably for the local brewers and for the consumer. The bill is certainly something that craft beer enthusiasts should oppose, as it attempts to insert Big Beer’s tentacles into the microbrew and craft beer world so that Anheuser-Busch InBev can profit. Fortunately, the bill was not voted on by the Florida House before the end of the 2014 legislative session. Let’s hope the effort is not revived in the next session.