Florida lawmakers, approve beer growlers

March 29, 2014 

Legislation currently on the move in Tallahassee will allow Manatee County's suddenly sprouting craft brew makers to boost beer sales. Take-home sales, that is.

Florida bans the sale of certain sizes of beer containers unless strict conditions are met under an outdated 1930s Prohibition-era law.

Craft brewers found an ally in Manatee-Sarasota Rep. Greg Steube, whose amendment to one of the beer bills allows brewers to sell their products in containers ranging from 32 to 128 ounces. That amendment passed but the bill and five other brewery-related measures are still up in the air.

Last year, the big beer distributors scuttled similar legislation that allowed 64-ounce containers, called growlers, as allowed in 47 other states.

Free market competition should rule here, especially for small businesses. Tastings and bottle sales are vital to wineries, so why handcuff brewers?

The popularity of craft brews has been exploding around the country for many years, but Florida and Manatee County have only begun to embrace the trend. We're late to the party.

Motorworks Brewing, Bradenton's first craft brewer, opened in January, and two more, Darwin's and Little Giant, are -- so to speak -- on tap to open soon.

For the uninitiated, there's this question -- asked on the beeradvocate.com website:

"What the hell is a growler? We're not talking about the USS Growler, a small iceberg, a four-wheeled hansom cab from England, a sexual offender or any of the other slang phrases associated with the word ..."

Plain and simple in the case of beer, a growler's a big jug.

These containers allow beer aficionados a take-home option of their favorite fresh, craft lager. This is good for small businesses, and the Legislature should support the little guy. The giant beer distributors -- and major campaign contributors, always a consideration in Tallahassee -- won't be crippled by growlers.

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