Size Matters – The Battle Over Growlers in Florida
One of the best things about having a local brewery in your town and being able to visit it is getting to taste the beer as fresh as it can be. An additional bonus to that is getting to take home said fresh beer with you in a growler. Most states have the standard of a 64 ounce container. To put that in perspective, 64 ounces is the equivalent of 5.3 standard bottle of beer; not even a full six-pack. Or, it is the same as 4 standard U.S. pints of beer. Florida, in its continued campaign to be the punchline of whatever joke it can weasel its way in to, has determined that the only growlers of beer that can be sold must be either 32 ounces or less, or 128 ounces or more. The claim is that this is for “health and safety” concerns.
I will let that sink in for a minute.
These laws only apply to beer. As you may have seen in the grocery store or liquor store, it is possible to buy a 1.75 liter (which is roughly 59 oz.) bottle of vodka or a 1.5L (50 oz.) Magnum of wine… Vodka is 80 proof, which is 40% alcohol. Wine runs anywhere from 10% – 14% on average. I will let you do the math on that one…
So what is the real reason for the ban on 64 ounce growlers? That depends on who you ask. Some say it is the self-appointed Defenders of Our Virtue and Saviors of Our Immortal Souls in the state who want to force their own puritanical religious extremism down the collective dry throats of the Sunshine State. Others blame lobbyists from the Big Beer industry or the distributors. The bottom line is, it happens in the legislature, and at the end of the day they are the ones who will cast the deciding votes.
This is not a partisan issue. Anyone who loves local business and craft beer should be behind this, regardless of politics. Normalizing the growler size is good for the growth of the industry. Advocates of “less government interference” and fewer regulations should be all over this one. A bill has been filed by Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, and co-sponsored by Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa. You can read the text here: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2013/0715/BillText/Filed/PDF
If you live anywhere in Florida and love craft beer, this affects you and your community. I encourage everyone to write and call their local Representatives and tell them to support this bill. Don’t know who your local rep is? You can find out here: http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/Find
A great article was written about this by Lloyd Dunkelberger in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. You can read that here: http://politics.heraldtribune.com/2013/02/17/on-tap-another-round-of-beer-bottle-debates/