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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Mar. 17, 201512:00 PM EST

Restructured 'growler' bill clears second Senate committee

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A measure (SB 186) to end the state’s prohibition on brewers being able to fill 64-ounce containers known as “growlers” has cleared a second Senate committee.

The Commerce and Tourism Committee on Monday unanimously backed a proposal by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, that would also allow small brewers to hold public tastings of their beer and allow brewers to transport some of their product between their own locations without having to use a distributor.

The proposal’s next stop is the Fiscal Policy Committee. Craft brewers have been seeking the growler change, but legislative proposals in recent years have been scuttled by large beer distributors.

The distributors point to a need to protect the state’s Depression-era three-tier regulation system, which requires the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages to be separated. Latvala has worked with the industry to re-craft the measure since the proposal was temporarily halted in early February due to objections from distributors.

In addition to allowing half-gallon growlers, the current proposal would eliminate a state rule in which brewers have to meet a tourism requirement for their licenses, require breweries and tap rooms to be housed in a single complex, limit the amount of malt beverages that can be transferred between breweries owned by the same brewer to 100 percent of the yearly production of the receiving location, require brewers to use a distributor when transporting any beverage they don’t manufacture and limit beverage tastings to facilities under 10,000-square-feet of interior space.

On Monday, the Beer Industry of Florida and the Florida Beer Wholesalers said the proposal had improved, but they will continue to push for some tighter regulations.

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