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Florida Trying to Make Microbreweries Sell, Buy Their Own Beer Back from Distributors

Laughing SquidLaughing SquidSubmitted for your approval via Political Fix Florida: A proposed beer law so freaking stupid that it will make you want to get really drunk.

The legislation worming its way through the Florida state Senate forces microbreweries or other craft beer producers to sell their beer to a distributor and then buy it back before selling it to the thirsty public. Even if the microbrewers have restaurants or on-site bars.

The measure (SB 1714) has so infuriated craft brewers and beer enthusiasts that some on Twitter have christened it with the hashtag “#growlergate.” The Community Affairs committee approved the bill Tuesday.

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, was so incensed at the idea of craft brewers having to pay someone else to sell their own product that he likened it to a mobbed-up racket. Latvala has championed the microbrewery cause.

The requirement is similar to paying "protection to 'Vinnie' in New York," he said.

The bill also is favored by the Big Beer lobby, which is feeling the heat from craft beer’s competition.

Ah, there you have it! The Big Beer lobby!

As The Tampa Tribune explains it, this is all part of the notorious and ridiculous three-tier system ushered in after Prohibition.

After the country's failed experiment with Prohibition from 1920 to 1933, states wanted to make sure no one - like mobsters - had monopoly control over booze.

They created a three-level system in which producers, including brewers, could sell only to wholesale distributors. The distributors then would sell to the retailers, and only retailers could sell to consumers. The idea was that nobody in one tier could unduly influence anyone in another, especially on pricing.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargell (R-Lakeland) and, as Political Fix notes, doesn't even require that the beer actually leave a microbrewery's property and then return. It's a pure payoff scheme. The bill also legalizes a 64-ounce "growler," or large jug of beer drawn from a tap. Currently, only 32-ounce and 128-ounce growlers are legal under state law. Because, you know, state legislatures are filled with idiots.

Hat tip: Patrick R. Gibbons

Watch "Beer: An American Revolution—How Microbreweries Promote Choice"

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  • Tim||

    America was stronger when I was a kid: if you wanted beer you got Bud, Bud Lite or Miller.

  • Restoras||

    Yeah, and if you wanted to put on airs you drank Michelob.

  • ||

    No, Heineken or Grolsch. God damn the beer selection was so fucking bad back then.

  • JW||

    Don't be dissing the Lowenbrau.

  • ||

    What if you wanted something that didn't taste like cold piss?

  • Michael Price||

    Then you drank it warm, if it's good enough for the English...

  • albo||

    Wow. Even my beloved Pennsylvania LCB--where rent seekers, unions and a sclerotic legislature meet to hoist a regulated drink--doesn't require that.

  • ||

    I would like to see that dress in the microbrew version, please.

  • sarcasmic||

    aye

  • R C Dean||

    If they make it in a stout, will John by one for his wife/mistress?

  • R C Dean||

    I'm already feeling bad about this cheap shot.

    Kinda.

  • sarcasmic||

    I smiled.

  • sarcasmic||

  • B.P.||

    This isn't really unheard of. My family's distillery pays our state distributor for anything we sell on-site at the distillery. The payment does include state excise taxes.

  • Brett L||

    But isn't that so you get a tax stamp so that people can legally transport your product over state lines?

  • B.P.||

    I'm to understand it's to maintain the multi-tiered alcohol distribution system. As in, we can't be our own distributor, even if the product actually goes directly from manufacturer to consumer.

  • Brett L||

    Ah, okay.

  • Paul.||

    This isn't really unheard of.

    Neither is paying protection money to a couple of guys who start warning about mishaps if you don't pay up.

  • B.P.||

    Oh, I'm not suggesting it's sterling public policy, just that it's not breaking news.

  • MoreFreedom||

    Your point being that since it's done, it's OK? In other words, you pay a distributor to do nothing, because you are forced to by government.

    Latvala is right. It's like paying protection money to the Mafia.

  • Brett L||

    The shitty thing is that this is the second bad bill in the FL Legislature this year, so the craft/microbrewers who testified against the first one have to haul their asses back to the Capitol to do a second round of lobbying against an even worse bill. Hopefully, we will see several people running explicitly against beer and wine distributors this fall.

  • ||

    That's how the system works. You gotta pay off the politicians. Pay them to leave you alone.

  • perlhaqr||

    Except it doesn't fucking work. Even if you pay them, they don't leave you alone.

    At least when you pay protection money to the Mob, they actually protect you. When you pay protection money to the State, they hire more cops to fuck with you.

  • Restoras||

    A hearty round of applause for Gillespie's choice of illustrative picture and alt+text.

  • db||

    Wish I could seee the alt text on my browser.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    You need to nuke that browser. ASAP. That's the most horrible thing I've ever heard.

    64 Ounce Beer Dress Not Legal in Florida. Yet.
  • ||

    That dress is not quite as successful in execution as in conception.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    You got me. Argh!

  • ||

    Why must you ruin good things you monster?

  • Restoras||

    I guess I should be glad I can't see this from my work computer?

  • UnCivilServant||

    Probably.

    I have a policy of not following Warty links, that's just asking for trouble.

  • lap83||

    This woman is a more accurate representation of the person who likes beer enough to buy that type of dress.

  • freebooter||

    That's not all, apparently they are trying to ban greyhound racing too. Oh well.

    I love how this article starts:


    Greyhound tracks will be able to offer card games and online betting, but not dog racing, under legislation moving quickly through the state legislature.


    Our overlords are so very generous. Note how the taking away of something is couched in what will be allowed.

    And:


    Legislation that began as a requirement to report injuries to racing greyhounds has morphed into what is being called de-coupling.

    The word end is used in the headline and elsewhere in the article but not once does the reporter use the term ban or outlaw. The whole thing makes it seem like the racing is just going stop.

    The press: copywriters for government.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

  • Auric Demonocles||

    There was a whole thread on this last week.

  • ||

    Did it have pictures of hot girls in slinky dresses? I've been busy at work and missed a lot, I'm really only catching up here starting today.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I'm all for new, improved versions of good threads. By next week the updated version might have a redhead instead. Plus I'll have new developments in homebrewing (waiting in secondary right now).

    I was saying that Cisco doesn't deserve a hat-tip.

    PS: Fuck you squirrels.

  • UnCivilServant||

    By next week the updated version might have a redhead instead.

    So it'll be a ginger beer?

  • gimmeasammich||

    From sarcasmic's link above...

    http://instagram.com/p/WXtTw6Po7l/

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Excellent. By next month it will be professional quality taken by someone else. By this summer it'll be full on porn.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    There was a whole thread on this last week.
    I was saying that Cisco doesn't deserve a hat-tip.

    And not ONE of you assholes pointed that out to me on Saturday?

    Thanks guyz! Leave me blowing in the wind.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I was busy doing shit on Saturday. Mostly drinking.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Idaho legislature has a current bill (passed the house) to prevent breweries from have any ownership in or control of wholesaling or retail businesses except for breweries under 30k barrels. Also prohibits wholesalers from owning or controlling a brewery. It's being sold as protecting the craft brewers from being shut out by Big Beer buying up distributors. And just happens to ban brewpubs that get too successful.

  • eselby||

    Already like this in Georgia.
    One of my favorite craft growler stores had to find a buyer or shut down because they were also trying to get a permit to brew. They aren't allowed to do both.

  • prolefeed||

    Hasn't this story already been posted several times on HNR?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Fry: Um, I have a question. What if Bender was really giant?

    Leela: You idiot! We already saw that.

    Fry: I know. I liked it. I wanna see it again.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    The measure (SB 1714) has so infuriated craft brewers and beer enthusiasts that some on Twitter have christened it with the hashtag “#growlergate.”

    They amazing found a way to lose me as an ally.

  • Drake||

    I'm guessing that getting licensed as a distributor requires well connected friends and lots of grease.

  • Brett L||

    Yep. Limited number of licenses, issued by a small bureaucracy.

  • Freedom Frog||

    Can I squeeze my own OJ in Florida or do I HAVE to go through Tropicana?

  • Brett L||

    You'll have to ask The Mouse. Everyone knows that Disney makes all the legal decisions in FL.

  • Robert||

    After the country's failed experiment with Prohibition from 1920 to 1933, states wanted to make sure no one - like mobsters - had monopoly control over booze. They created a three-level system in which producers, including brewers, could sell only to wholesale distributors. The distributors then would sell to the retailers, and only retailers could sell to consumers. The idea was that nobody in one tier could unduly influence anyone in another, especially on pricing.


    Apparently according to the dogma of the day, business was like that—mobsters or even nobsters (Like that word for "non-mobsters"?) would cartelize it if gov't didn't prevent it. Like they'd seen how the liquor biz was under Prohib'n and figured that was just the normal way.

    That had to have been the way it came about, i.e. by disinterested true believers. It could not have been established biz interests seeking protection, because there weren't any legit operators in the liquor business then, and it could not have been discouragement in the place of prohib'n, because they could've achieved that much more simply via taxes or simply maintaining their state's prohib'n.

  • ||

    The notion that people might brew liquor and sell it on the premises seems not to have occurred to anyone in 1930.

  • ||

    After the country's failed experiment with Prohibition from 1920 to 1933, states wanted to make sure no one - like mobsters - had monopoly control over booze.

    They created a three-level system in which producers, including brewers, could sell only to wholesale distributors. The distributors then would sell to the retailers, and only retailers could sell to consumers. The idea was that nobody in one tier could unduly influence anyone in another, especially on pricing.

    Because a system designed for the 1930s is so applicable to the beer market of 2014.

    Repeal this, and we'll have men in pin stripe suits shooting eachother with tommy guns in the streets, FO' SURE!!!!

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Nothing screams "preventing monopoly" like "stop tiny business from selling directly to customers".

  • perlhaqr||

    Threadwinner. :)

  • perlhaqr||

    We don't have a fucking retard law like this in NM (yet) but we do have a pretty strict franchise state. (All beer imported for sale must be imported through a distributor. Which means that if no distributor thinks it's worth bringing something rare or weird in, we just don't get it.) But licenses are so rare, there aren't very many distributors.

    But it's not a monopoly. It's more like a tripoly. That's totally different. Argh.

  • MoreFreedom||

    Latvala is right, this is like paying protection money to the Mafia. But instead of the Mafia, it's the government created distributor cartel to which you pay it.

    The only difference between them and the Mafia, is they have bigger government guns and more thugs to ensure you pay up. And in both cases you get nothing of value for your protection money, just a promise to not put you out of business using their guns.

    Government is supposed to protect our liberties, including the liberty to buy and sell alcohol. Their job is to ensure competition exists to any who want to enter the alcohol distribution (or other) business, including brewers. Instead of protecting our liberties, they are becoming the mafia, extracting our money from us for their own benefit. That's criminal gangsta government.

  • Mike Parent||

    Big Business bullying small business with help from bought and paid for politicians.

  • ibcbet||

    It's being sold as protecting the craft brewers from being shut out by Big Beer buying up distributors.

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