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Florida Bill Proposes Allowing Beer Tastings in Stores

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Free specialty craft beer tastings could come to stores like Costco and Publix if a new Florida bill passes.

The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Nancy Detert (R-District 28), received unanimous approval from the Florida Senate industries committee.

For local breweries and bars like Gainesville House of Beer and Swamp Head Brewery, this bill (SB 470) means business.

Alex Whelpton, manager of the Gainesville House of Beer, said the bill increase consumer’s knowledge of the variety of brands available, allowing customers to know what they’re ordering and what their options are.

“A lot of the products are really awesome; they’re really quality,” Whelpton said. “But people just don’t know about it.”

Brandon Nappy, marketing manager for the Swamp Head Brewery, said the bill gives the brewery a way for it to market and introduce its products to people who haven’t yet experienced it.

Some lawmakers are concerned the bill is written too broadly, and that it will result in convenience stores hosting what some would call “beer parties.”

Hesitant lawmakers aren’t the only obstacle impeding the bill’s path to passing.

Whelpton said bigger beverage companies are lobbying against the bill because they don’t want it to draw customers away from their already established brands, which have large consumer bases.

The bill is now being addressed in the Senate Community Affairs committee.

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