Guy Piasecki, owner of the Crafted Keg in Stuart, Florida, would be breaking the law if he sold beer in one of its most widely-recognized containers.
Under state law, no business may sell beer in a container that is larger than 32 ounces and smaller than a gallon. The law is particular to Florida and is troubling for many barkeepers, as it prevents them from selling half-gallon jugs—commonly called growlers—to out-of-state tourists.
Piasecki has called the law “confusing,” especially since it is legal to fill jugs that are smaller and larger than the growler. He has also noted that explaining to tourists that they can buy a half gallon of beer only in two separate quart containers is misleading and bad for business.
“They think you’re ripping them off,” Piasecki said.
The ban has been in place for at least fifty years, and may have gone unchallenged if the craft beer industry hadn’t brought it to light. Sales of craft beer are on a significant rise in Florida, with over a hundred breweries operating today (compared to just six in 2007). Although many beer makers and distributors are behind the repeal, recent attempts to amending the law at the state level proved unsuccessful.
“The only sense I can make from it is it slows the growth of the craft beer industry down,” Piasecki said.
In November, the state filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the sale of alcohol is a privilege, rather than a right. It also claimed that the law was created to “deter excessive drinking,” a notion that has been dismissed by Piasecki’s representation, because customers are still allowed to buy the same quantity of alcohol in different containers.
A judge is expected to issue a decision in the case early in 2015.
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