Brewers to crowdfund $100k legal battle

A group of US brewers has turned to crowdfunding to help fund a legal battle that it fears could strip away their right to serve beer in a tasting room.

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Growlers: A licensing loophole allows Florida brewers to serve beer on site in either quart or gallon measures.

The Florida Brewers Guild (FBG) claims craft breweries are “under attack” from big beer brands who supporting a lawsuit challenging a provision in state law that allows craft brewers to serve beer in onsite tasting rooms.

Filed by the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) against Florida’s Division of Alcohol Beverages with the support of big brands including Miller and Budweiser, the group claims to be seeking “clarification” on licensing laws for serving growlers at onsite tasting rooms.

In Florida, beer is currently regulated under a three-tier system in which craft brewers have to sell their beer to distributors who then sell them back to the craft brewer, the aim being to ensure proper proper bottling and sanitary safeguards.

However growlers are exempt from this rule allowing brews to be served in tasting rooms by either quart or gallon, but not in half-gallons, the most popular size.

The FRF is asking the agency to stop issuing retail licenses under the current rules and produce a ruling to clarify the law on serving growlers, which it says was originally passed to allow Anheuser-Busch to sell beer at the Busch Gardens theme park under a so-called “tourist exception” to the three-tier system.

Speaking to news-press.com, Samantha Padgett, a lawyer with the FRF, said: “We’re not asking for them to withdraw any licenses. Moving forward, we’re asking them to stop issuing licenses as of right now under their current practices and to design a rule that better explains how the law should be applied.”

However Florida’s craft brewers believe it to be a targeted attack by big brewers to control the continued success of craft beer in the state that would infact cause jobs in the area to be lost and beer tourism to “grind to a halt”.

Risks posed by the lawsuit, according to the FBG, include “loss of ability to obtain a vendor license. This means no more tasting rooms. All current vendor licenses issued to breweries could be revoked. Onsite sales of pints, growler fills, or beers-to-go could be terminated.”

The costs of the lawsuit are expected to exceed $100,000, with the group turning to crowdfunding site Indigogo to help raise the funds through donations from online backers.

So far $42,260 has already been raised with 56-days left to go.

The FBG said: “We are shocked that retailers and distributors would try to invalidate breweries tasting rooms. Perhaps they have entered into this suit without comprehending the serious implications it could have on the entire Florida brewing industry?”

One Response to “Brewers to crowdfund $100k legal battle”

  1. Keith Bodine says:

    ” the aim being to ensure proper proper bottling and sanitary safeguards.” The aim is to make life difficult for smaller brewers and make money for the distributors. Distributors are not setup to do this type of quality control and don’t.

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