A bar is suing the state of Florida for violating the Constitution by preventing it from selling 64 ounce “growlers” of beer to its customers.
Beer-lovers can purchase these popular 1/2 gallon jugs and refill them with beer at breweries, restaurants and taverns across the country. But if they want 1/2 gallon of beer in Florida they must either purchase two separate quart-sized growlers, or go big and purchase a gallon.
Pacific Legal Foundation is suing Florida on behalf of The Crafted Keg, which specializes in growlers, for arbitrarily banning the 1/2 gallon growler to protect the interests of larger beer distributors.
Before 2003, beer could only be sold in the state in 12 ounce, 16 ounce, or 32 ounce containers, which prevented Floridians from enjoying a range of imports, including craft beer, reported the Tampa Bay Times.
When that law changed in 2001 to allow beer to be sold in containers below 32 ounces or in bulk (a gallon or more), the state saw an explosion of craft beer. But by effectively banning the sale of 1/2 gallon growlers, the law hurts craft beer establishments and frustrates their customers.
“People from out of state will come in and ask to have their half-gallon growlers filled, but we say that we can’t, and that they’d have to buy a new growler in a different size,” explained the co-owner of The Crafted Keg, Alex Piasecki, in a statement. “This makes them feel we’re refusing service, but we’re just following the law.
“Some folks don’t understand, and it makes for a real customer relations problem,” he added.
State Sen. Tom Lee, who championed the 2001 legislation, has said the growlers are banned to encourage moderation, but Miller and his clients aren’t buying it.
“There is simply no defensible reason for Florida to single out the most popular craft-brew jug and ban it,” said PLF managing attorney Mark Miller in a statement. “What’s the health or safety rationale for telling consumers that a half-gallon jug is off-limits, but two quarter-gallon jugs are fine?” he said.
“Protecting a powerful industry’s market share isn’t a legitimate reason for government restrictions or regulations,” he added. “It doesn’t justify limiting the economic liberty of other businesses and consumers.”
The big beer industry in Florida supports the ban as a rule, and prevented a more recent attempt to change the law. But one big beer lobby, the Beer Industry of Florida, recently acknowledged the craft beer industry’s growing strength by stating it now opposes the ban, reported Businessweek.
“The beer industry understands that the craft beer revolution is here to stay, and we welcome it,” a video posted to its website stated. “And as a result, the Florida legislature needs to update our alcohol laws.”
Florida’s Republican governor Rick Scott and his Democratic opponent Charlie Crist have both taken a stance against the ban.
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