The "growler" bill has been served up, with a number of additives, to be debated on the Senate floor.

The Senate Fiscal Policy Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a measure (SB 186) that would end the state's prohibition on breweries being able to fill 64-ounce beer containers known as "growlers."

"All I wanted was a simple 64-ounce growler, because in 49 other states you can have them and you can't have them in Florida," said Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who has pushed the issue for three years.

"It's one of the mysteries of the liquor law that stems back to the 1930s and the sacred three-tier system."

Latvala's bill was filed as a straightforward proposal to end the state's prohibition on brewers being able to fill half-gallon growlers for off-site consumption. Florida allows brewers to fill other size containers, but not the half-gallon size that is considered the most popular.

Now, the bill also would allow small brewers to hold public tastings of their beer and transport some of their product between their own locations without having to use distributors.

Also, it would require breweries and tap rooms to be housed in single complexes, limit the amount of malt beverages that can be transferred between breweries owned by the same brewer, require brewers to use distributors when transporting any beverages they don't manufacture and limit beverage tastings to facilities under 10,000 square-feet of interior space.

The committee Thursday tacked on an additional amendment to limit individual brewers to nine retail outlets. Craft brewers have been seeking the growler change for several years, but prior legislative proposals have been scuttled by large beer distributors.

The distributors have pointed 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.

A similar measure in the House (HB 301) has cleared two committees and awaits a final stop in the Regulatory Affairs Committee before it can go to the House floor.

From our media partner News Service of Florida


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