- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:

April 29

The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla., on the beer growler bill:

State Sen. Kelli Stargel’s latest attempt to broker a compromise in Florida’s ongoing beer wars somewhat leavens a bitter bill, but nevertheless is flat.

The Lakeland Republican this week filed an amendment to SB 1714 that purports to accommodate the state’s microbreweries by allowing them to sell their products in all sizes of sealed to-go containers, commonly called “growlers.” However, the bill is limited in scope, applying only to those businesses that brew fewer than 2,000 kegs of beer (the equivalent of 1,000 barrels). The amendment also allows larger craft brewers to sell 20 percent of their beer in bottles or cans from their breweries.

Joey Redner, founder and CEO of Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, recently told MSNBC that microbreweries don’t become profitable until they exceed 5,000 barrels. Capping the growler allowance so low severely restricts many businesses’ ability to grow.

That’s exactly what large distributors of traditional, mass-market beers are seeking to do, so as to blunt competition from the upstart craft beers. They want microbreweries to jump through regulatory hoops that will increase the price of doing business, namely by forcing them to participate in the state’s three-tiered system of alcohol regulation.

That consists of manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Businesses that brew and sell their beers on their premises would have to buy at least a portion of that product back from middlemen - at a markup - even if the beverages never leave the site.

Joshua Aubuchon, who represents the Florida Brewers Guild, said … that SB 1714 still “creates a layer of bureaucracy where one currently does not exist” …

Craft beer is a growth industry in Florida, particularly in Volusia County, where several microbreweries have opened in the last year, with more on the way. That should be seen as a healthy development for the state and local economies, not cause for alarm and the enforcement of protectionist policies.

Online:

http://www.news-journalonline.com

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April 27

The News Journal, Pensacola, Fla., on an urgent plea for RayAnn:

Story Continues →