No hope for half-gallon growlers

Florida's legislature debated the terms of a proposed bill that would allow the sale of 64-ounce growlers, among other provisions for beer business, for months. The bill died when the legislative session ended May 3.

Rep. Katie Edwards of Plantation pushed for the bill, which she said was specifically an effort to promote business for small breweries.

I talked to Edwards in February (read the story here), when she was clear about her hopes to turn Florida into a beer destination.

But as the Daytona Beach News-Journal columnist Mark Lane observes, a law allowing the sale of wine from 5-gallon kegs at bars passed while the so-called growler bill died, suggesting wine is still considered classier and more-important than beer.


Pictures: Oktoberfest in South Florida

The blog AmericanCraftBeer.com cites the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association as the main opponent to the growler bill. The association represents Anheuser-Busch, Budweiser's parent company. AmericanCraftBeer.com reports a lobbyist from the group prevented the bill from making it into the House for a hearing, which impeded its passing.

The bill, aside from allowing small breweries to sell half-gallon growlers -- sold regularly in other states -- may have permitted growler sales at retailers such as Total Wine, and may have granted brewpubs the ability to sell beer for off-premise consumption.

Growlers, which are refillable glass bottles, are valuable to beer aficionados because they enable them to consume one-time offerings at home and to store larger quantities -- albeit for short periods due to sealing methods.

The 64-ounce measure was important for brewers because it would offer consumers another purchasing option and put Florida microbrewers on par with national sales standards.

However, an amendment to the bill proposed by Sen. Maria Sachs of Delray Beach would have limited growler sales to the smallest microbreweries, possibly prohibiting relatively larger brands such as Cigar City from selling off-premise.