On Big Beer’s ongoing efforts to smother the little guy
As part of our sacred obligation to inform you of Big Beer’s ongoing efforts to smother the Florida craft brew industry — which recently made national headlines via a Reuters story centered on Jax’s own Intuition Ale Works — we’d like to make note of a no-good, very-bad piece of legislation called Senate Bill 1714, a proposal heavily influenced by beer distributors and retailers who think the craft industry has it way too easy.
As with earlier bites at this poison apple, Big Beer’s acolytes in the Florida Legislature are offering craft brewers a chance to sell 64-ounce growlers (the most popular kind, legal in 47 states) in exchange for a ban on selling their bottled and canned products directly to the public. Instead, they’d have to sell to wholesalers, who in turn sell the product back to bars and grocers (at a markup, of course), because nothing says free-market capitalism like unnecessary intermediaries. The Florida Beer Wholesalers Association — a political heavyweight — says that all it wants is to preserve competition, presumably by making it harder for the little guy to circumvent them. Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, has (more accurately) called it a mob-like shakedown.
SB 1714 easily cleared its first two legislative committees. Still, with the end of the legislative session fast approaching (it ends May 2), our money is on the status quo prevailing — for better and worse.