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Florida craft beer fans toast signing of growler law

64 ounces: A standard-size beer growler is legal in Florida under a bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott this month.
64 ounces: A standard-size beer growler is legal in Florida under a bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott this month. packagingoptionsdirect.com

Gov. Rick Scott signed into law what has become known as the beer “growler” bill (SB 186), which will allow half-gallon containers to be filled at breweries, in addition to already-legal quarter-gallon and gallon-size bottles.

But don’t rush out to fill-’er-up just yet, as the law doesn’t go into effect until July 1. Scott said in signing the measure last week that he was “eliminating another burdensome regulation.”

The sudsy topic had been a heavily lobbied issue in the Capitol the past few years because of objections from large beer distributors.

The distributors pointed to a need to protect the state’s Depression-era three-tier regulation system, which has required the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages to be separated.

The bill was filed this year by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, as a straightforward attempt to repeal the ban on the 64-ounce containers, which are considered the most popular size among craft beer aficionados.

But after some give and take, the final bill includes regulations that would limit cup sizes to 3.5 ounces for beer tastings, ban the use of electronic-benefits transfer cards — formerly known as food stamps — to buy alcoholic beverages and cap at eight the number of tap-room licenses a single brewer can hold.

“Florida brewers should have every tool at their disposal to succeed, and this bill is a huge step in that direction,” Latvala said in a statement issued by the governor’s office.

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