Madness?! THIS. IS. FLORIDA!!

So for those following along at home, we are still mid-pandemic, a pseudo-statewide-shutdown, and it is like the damn Wild West out there. There are so many topics that could be discussed, but I will try to stay beer-focused here for now.

Today I posted this on Facebook:

Fifteen days ago, the Florida Brewers Guild (of which I am the Executive Director) sent a letter to the Secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Halsey Bashears, asking for help for our member breweries. We felt that breweries were being unfairly punished for the actions (or inactions) of other bad actors in the hospitality industry. We looked for compromise. We looked for discussion. We looked for uniform enforcement of rules, as opposed to arbitrary ones based on license type. We were told – multiple times – that all would be reviewed in two weeks. Again and again, members were told “July 16th”.

During that time, breweries that had the audacity to speak out against the unfair orders were harassed and threatened by armed agents of the ABT (they fall under Beshears’ purview as well). It is no coincidence that the breweries targeted were the same ones making public statements.

Well, yesterday came and went. And there has not been a peep from Beshears or his agency. I will let you draw your own conclusions from that.

Here is my personal view (not that of the Guild as a whole): The lack of professional courtesy shown by the agency’s head, and the disdain shown for our industry is unacceptable. Halsey Beshears has shown that he does not serve the craft breweries of Florida in any kind of good faith. I question whether or not he even knows anything about or understands the economic impact of breweries in the state.I suspect he is focused elsewhere. And he should be reminded, very loudly, that he works for all the businesses of Florida, not just those run by his friends and supporters.

Not long afterwards, Governor Ron DeSantis went on the air during a speech/update and made the erroneous claim that pubs were open in south Florida and drove the cases up, when we know bars have been closed for months. This does not help our cause.

So, now that you are sufficiently outraged, the natural question is “What can I do, Sean? How do we affect change in this situation?”

So glad you asked. Here are things you can do right now:

  • Call out Halsey Beshears and the DBPR on social media. We were patient and waited for answers, and they opted to ignore us.
  • Call out Governor Ron DeSantis. Beshears was appointed by and works for him.
  • Email and call your state representatives. Tell them what you think of the actions of the DBPR and Secretary Beshears. Not sure how to find your representative’s info? Go here.
  • Keep buying to to beer from your local breweries. I will never stop saying that.
  • Support the Florida Brewers Guild by buying merch. We have a new online store with some rad new threads. Check it out here.

Looking ahead, keep these things in mind:

  • Elections are coming up. And while everyone is focused on the big national elections for President, Senate, etc. And these are important, no question. But your state and local elections are equally as important, and in the case of our industry, probably even more so. Where do the candidates in your district stand on brewery-related issues? Self distribution, free market franchise, delivery and shipping, tax and license reduction? Are they even aware of these issues? Find out. Engage with the Florida Brewers Guild if you want to know more about your candidates and the issues.
  • After the elections, keep the pressure on. Tell your representatives what you expect from them. Join us for our Hill Climb in Tallahassee in March when we go talk to legislators about these issues.
  • Ask for Florida beer at your local retailers, bars and restaurants. Don’t be fooled by macro, crafty offerings. Demand local. The more people ask, the more the message gets out there.

This is just one more battle in the ongoing fight for Florida Craft Beer. It is one that has been waged for decades, and will continue long after I am gone, no doubt. But each battle we fight and win is one step closer to a stronger and healthier industry.

Stay tuned, folks… we’re just getting started.

~ by Sean Nordquist on July 17, 2020.

One Response to “Madness?! THIS. IS. FLORIDA!!”

  1. I just have to say… If my dear friend and Our Lady of Beer Sue Muntner was still alive, she would be out there drinking her fair share of local craft beer & singing the praises of you sir Sean Nordquist and all that you do for the industry. Nastrovia!

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