Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Half-Gallon Growlers Nearing OK; House Expected to Approve Change in Sales Rules for Craft Breweries

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Half-Gallon Growlers Nearing OK; House Expected to Approve Change in Sales Rules for Craft Breweries

Article excerpt

Byline: Tia Mitchell

TALLAHASSEE | Half-gallon-size growlers for Florida's craft beer enthusiasts may finally become reality this year.

The Legislature is one vote away from approving a bill that would legalize 64-ounce growlers along with other changes for the beer and alcohol industry. The Senate already passed Bill 186 unanimously, and the House is expected to take up the measure in the coming days.

"It's something we've been working on for, jeez, I think four years," said Ben Davis, founder of Intuition Ale Works in Jacksonville's Riverside neighborhood. "And I'm very happy to join the other 49 states in the country where they are legal."

Florida's refusal to authorize 64-ounce growlers, the most popular size nationally, has become the punch line of many jokes.

Some Sunshine State brewers jokingly offered to sell customers two 32-ounce growlers taped together to demonstrate what they considered an absurd and outdated rule. Larger 128-ounce growlers are also legal in Florida currently.

Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, is one of the champions of this year's growler legislation, which is co-sponsored by the Regulated Industries Committee that he chairs.

"There was consensus among many of us that this has gone on for too long and let's, No. 1, free the growler and, No. 2, let's clean up all these alleged ambiguities in the law to remove the lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits going forward," Bradley said.

A legal challenge filed by beer distributors, liquor stores and the Florida Retail Federation in January attempted to shutter tasting rooms operated by craft breweries across the state. Although the challenge was dropped, it actually seemed to embolden lawmakers' resolve to get fixes written into state law, said Joshua Aubuchon, executive director and general counsel of Florida Brewers Guild, which represents about 80 craft brewers. …

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