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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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