Beer Growlers Are Now Thankfully Legal In Florida

by Jo Yurcaba

Brewers and microbreweries can rejoice in 64 ounces of fresh-off-the-tap beer, because Florida Gov. Rick Scott legalized beer growlers across the state on Thursday, according to the Orlando Sentinel. There had been a lot of back and forth legislation, with large beer distributors helping kill bills legalizing growlers in the past because of controversies over the way breweries could sell directly to consumers. But simply put: You can now buy more beer directly from your favorite small Floridian brewery by purchasing a giant jug of it — the growler.

Prior to the change, growlers were legal in every state expect Florida, with varying stipulations in each state, according to the Miami Herald. The reason this bill passed was because the distributors Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors reached a compromise that limits the amount of breweries operated by a small manufacturer to eight, according to the Sentinel. The tension between microbreweries and larger distributors all surrounds confusing laws about production caps and distribution laws, according to the Boston Globe. Growlers allow consumers to take home more beer, which obviously then allows smaller breweries to make more beer.

Some states, such as Arizona, North Dakota, and Wyoming, have passed recent legislation increasing production caps, thus allowing craft breweries to brew more beer. Other states have been revising laws that affect craft breweries, which means removing restrictions on growlers, according to the Globe.

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The effects of these changes are great: more delicious, inventive craft beer! Byron Burroughs, owner of Proof Brewing in Tallahassee and vice president of the Florida Brewers Guild board, told the Herald that the growler is a "moot point" and that it should have been allowed all along:

This is really about putting down all of the attacks on our tasting rooms and all of the attempts to limit what we could do and try to restrict the growth of the craft brewing industry.

Prior to the law change in Florida, consumers could only buy 32-ounce growlers, according to Food & Wine, which is harder on breweries, because the industry standard growlers are 64 ounces. In a prepared statement, Scott said the new law will allow the state's craft breweries to better flourish, according to the Sentinel:

By making the sale of 64 ounce growlers legal in Florida, we are eliminating another burdensome regulation and allowing more Florida businesses to succeed. We are pleased to continue to create a world class business environment where all businesses, including breweries, can succeed.
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Be careful, though. Growler laws differ state by state. For example, in some states, you can only purchase growlers at certain places. In West Virginia, only brewpubs are allowed to sell growlers. But in June, a new law will take effect, and it will allow brewers, brew pubs, retailers, and bars to sell them, according to the Globe. Who knew beer could be so confusing? I mean, apart from all the chemistry stuff.

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Then, there are states where laws are very specific about growler selling. In some states where growlers are legal, they can only be refilled by the brewery whose logo they bear. That was the case in California, until the ABC clarified its reading of the law and said breweries could refill outside growlers, either generic jugs or ones with logos of rival breweries, according to the Press Democrat. Missouri will be the next to join the states where you can buy growlers in grocery or convenience stores, according to the Globe. (Right now you can only buy them in breweries or specialty bars.) Go, Missouri!

Florida is the most recent to join the less fussy states where growler owners can take any of their growlers to any brewery and have them filled up. Yippee! But hold your beer-loving horses: According to the Sentinel, the law doesn't take effect until June 1.

Images: Paul Joseph/Flickr (1); Getty Images (3)