Florida lawmakers may legalize the sale of 64 ounce beer "growlers". Orlando Sentinel reporter Jon Busdeker spoke to Orlando Brewing President John Cheeks about the possible changes.

TALLAHASSEE – Florida lawmakers are once again taking a stab at reforming the state’s Prohibition-era ban on half-gallon beer “growlers” and beer-tastings.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee advanced a bill (SB 470), which repeals a state ban on beer tastings and permits licensed beer distributors and retailers to conduct beer tastings much like they can now with wine tastings.

“It doesn’t make sense to me you can have wine tastings and not beer tastings,” said Sen. Nancy Detert, the Venice Republican sponsoring the bill.

Florida legislators are proposing rules that would legalize the sale of 64-oz. bottles of beer known as growlers. North Carolina legislators considered a similar bill in 2013.

“Craft beer seems to be a growth industry in Florida.”

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But beer lobbyists pounced on the bill, prompting Detert to call it a "beer fight" over which types of establishments could offer beer tastings. The state's beer wholesaler association testified they wanted manufacturers and their employees to also have the right. A lobbyist for the ABC liquor store chain said the bill needed some help in clarifying where the tastings would be held.

Detert said she had hoped to limit the locations to places that can do current wine-tastings like liquor stores and large box-stores like Costco's.

"I'm happy to hear the beer lobbyists will be writing amendments to my bill," Detert said.

The panel, though, postponed a vote on another bill carried by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, that would legalize the sale of 64-ounce beer containers known as “growlers” that are legal in 47 other states.

Florida law allows the sale of 32-ounce craft beer containers, or larger gallon jugs – but not the 64-ounce growlers. Nationwide, the 64-ounce growler is a preferred size for selling craft brews and micro-brews, which have exploded in popularity in recent years.

An attempt to repeal the ban last year got bogged down in a fight between craft brewers and beer distributors and wholesalers including Anheuser-Busch, which benefit from Florida’s complicated regulation of alcohol.

The committee’s chair, Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said the bill had some technical problems and would be brought back later.

"There are not just two sides to these issues, but four, five 12 sides to these issues," she said.

"What we've seen today is that for every three people, there are 12 opinions," Detert responded.