Florida Legislature considers allowing beer brewers to sell in growlers



SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Florida is one of only three states that does not allow beer to be sold in reusable half-gallon containers known as “growlers." It’s not that the state is opposed to beer sales; Florida allows brewers to sell beer in full gallon and quart sizes, just not the half gallon. In 2013 the Florida Legislature considered a bill that would have ended the prohibition-era ban, but amid pressure from the major breweries and distributors, the bill never received a vote.
This year HB 1329 seems headed for a floor vote but its companion in the Senate is still mired in committee, leaving small brewers to wonder if the law will ever be changed.
“It doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint,” said Sky Conley, of Longwood’s Hourglass Brewery. “There is no reasoning why they are illegal in the first place, no one has an answer.”
The answer as to why the state has been unwilling to allow half-gallon containers may have something to do with the size of the container, and the size of the campaign contributions paid out by major brewers and distributors.
At 64 ounces, a half-gallon container is roughly the same size as a six pack of beer, making it more of a competitor.  While brewers can sell the smaller and larger sizes, it is the half-gallon that is most popular in the industry.
“We can sell two 32 ounce bottles, but not a half gallon, so they have to pay more for two containers,” says Conley.  “A gallon is like you got to go to a party, that’s too much beer for most people.”
According to documents from the Florida Division of Elections, major brewers and distributors have given more than $1 million to candidates from both parties, spending even more on lobbyists to push their agenda.  The most vocal in opposition has been Anheuser-Busch and its parent company InBev, which combined to kill the bill in 2013. However, in a noticeable change in direction, the company announced this week that it is no longer opposed to the sale of 64-ounce growlers, a move that may clear the way for the legislation.