Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

Posts tagged ‘florida brewers guild’

Dear Florida Lawmaker – Are we really stuck in Prohibition? Seriously “only in FLORIDA” ?

Dear Florida Lawmaker,

If you’ve followed the craft brewing crescendo of late, you know that Craft Beer is exploding in almost every state of the union – including Alaska and Hawaii!

Craft Beer is an affluent “sport” where a pint of the finest brew starts at $5. and a Nielsen study quotes that close to 60% of craft beer drinkers earn over $75K a year.  It’s an exploding industry stateside and internationally – and we, Florida craft beer consumers (we’re all of voting age!) are fortunate.  Within an hours drive of almost anywhere in the state is a local craft brewer ready and willing to serve us brews that satisfy even the most finicky  palate!

BUT, on the brewery side, it’s certainly not a fast road to riches – consider the start-up costs (upwards of $400K according to posts on ProBrewer.com), licensing, and, if you have your way, a stranglehold of regulations.

For brewers, it’s a labor of passion and love, and fortunately it’s becoming a community of good people with good intentions and the American dream of hard work leading to good profits – EXCEPT WHEN IT COMES TO YOU, OUR FLORIDA LAWMAKERS.

Despite the potential tax revenues, tourism dollars, jobs, and general well-being that comes from the beer industry, of which craft brewing is a part, you’ve been crafting backroom legislation intended to stifle the growth of the craft brewing industry and working to increase regulations to benefit the big beer distributors who line some of your pockets with campaign contributions.  Lewis Bear (an Anheuser Busch distributor) is a great long-term friend of our Senate President, who is quoted as saying he will support anything that Lewis Bear puts before him.

Florida could be a craft beer tourist destination bringing millions (if not billions!) of tax and tourist revenue to our state!

Please!  Wake up and smell the coffee (there is actually a Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout on tap at Rapp Brewing in Largo!) Why would some of you hasten back to prohibition and claim that laws from 80+ years ago still are equally valid today?  Fear-mongering rhetoric from a bygone era trumped talk about growth this season as you talked about regulations ranging from growler size to grocers holding beer tastings (wine is okay?!)   Wine certainly has far more freedom (have you even tasted the incredible fresh from Florida beers?  No one talks about craft beer as being anything close to water here!)

By the end of the year, our tropical landscape will be dotted with over 100 microbreweries from Jacksonville to Key West, (see my  post about Gerard Walen’s new book FLORIDA BREWERIES) – each boasting a story of long hours, passionate brewers, and loyal supporters – yet you appear to be intent on killing the industry before it really gets off the ground.  Consider that Colorado, Washington State, Oregon, NY, North Carolina and other states are craft beer friendly (and their economies are thriving even with cold weather and sagging tourism!)

What Happened to Jobs, Revenue, Economic Growth and Small Business Incentives being important?  Please see what competing states are proposing that PROMOTE CRAFT BREWING:

In Michigan:

SCarolinahttp://mibiz.com/news/mibooze/item/21465-changes-to-state-law-allow-small-microbreweries-to-bypass-wholesalers-sell-directly-to-retailers

In South Carolina:

SCarolina

http://www.goupstate.com/article/20140417/ARTICLES/140419696?tc=ar

Honorable Representative or Senator, I urge you as a Floridian and as our elected official, PLEASE rule in favor of small business and support our local craft brewing industry – our future (and the future of our children) depends on you.  Please leave prohibition behind and do not allow Florida to be fodder for late night comedy routines “Are we really stuck in Prohibition?  Oh right, only in Florida!”

Respectfully,

Carol Dekkers, Florida Voter

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FL Legislation Pending to KILL Craft Brewing… What can “WE” do?

You may or may not be privy to the maelstrom brewing around craft brewing in our great state of Florida – and if you don’t you’re in good company!

Our newspapers and popular social media (including the big mass-produced-beer distributors) espouse the newest craft brewery openings and local festivals featuring photos of happy, upwardly mobile hipsters with kids in tow enjoying brews hand-crafted from the Tampa Bay area and beyond.  It would appear to an outsider that big beer and others support the growth of craft brewing…

Don’t be fooled!

The big beer distributors (especially those “featuring” Belgian owned Anheuser-Busch InBev) pour millions of dollars into Florida’s campaign funds to support the current self-professed “pro-business” (bahahaha!!! NOT!) legislators -dollars intended to PROTECT BIG BUSINESS and kill craft beer in Florida.

All told, there are almost a dozen house and senate bills making their way through the various committees and structures – intending to make sure that the small craft brewer pays the piper (the big beer distributors!) for their own beer that they wish to sell to willing patrons.

One such bill just passed its committee last week on a vote of 8-1 and would require breweries to pay a distributor a 30-40% profit on their own beer (that they bottle or can on premise) before they can sell it to their patrons. It doesn’t even have to leave their refrigerators – and the distributor can actually refuse to allow them to even do the sales in the first place!  And this is one of only a dozen pieces of legislation that the distributor’s lobbyists are pushing through in Florida – wait until you hear some of the other ludicrous proposals intended to “protect” and preserve the rights of big beer over the underdog craft brewers!!!

Here’s a recent piece on the situation:

the ledgerhttp://tinyurl.com/n6jte5s

Another great piece written by my colleague Sean Nordquist:

beer for the daddy

WHAT CAN WE (YOU AND ME AS FLORIDA VOTERS) DO?

The short answer is to TAKE ACTION (and not sit by and watch and say “it doesn’t really affect me…”  – small businesses in Florida affect all of us!)

The best course of action for any small business community that isn’t flush with cash (like the big beer distributors are!) is to assemble and support with facts.  This isn’t just about greed and bullying anymore, this hits to the very core of the American Dream – that the little guy, the craft brewers in Florida, can make it big – that our small brewers can join the nation and other states that CELEBRATE the growth of a highly innovative and family-friendly industry.  Our craft brewing industry is a collaborative small business industry that promotes other small businesses (festivals, community projects, farmers – yes farmers!, food trucks, State Fair, charities, local historical societies and so many others) – AND works together to promote a better Florida.  These are the mom-and-pop, bricks-and-mortar, small business at its finest, FLORIDA based businesses that need our support to survive (and thrive!)

Here’s my humble assessment (that I posted on Facebook) about the approach we (as a united group of Florida voters) need to take:

facebook

What do YOU think?  PLEASE give me guidance (and your email address if you’d like to participate in preparing a position paper to present to the Governor) – our future depends on all of us!

Happy imbibing!

Carol

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