Florida will soon join 47 others states that allow the sale of 64-ounce growlers.
Gov. Rick Scott signed SB 186 on Thursday which legalizes the sale of the large refillable beer containers known as growlers.
SB 186 was filed on Dec. 16, passed unanimously through House and Senate and approved by the governor on Thursday.
The bill will go into effect starting July 1.
But the bill comes with some restrictions. Breweries and wineries are legally allowed to sell products for at-home consumption, but there are limits on how many ounces can be sold at a time.
Prior to the bill being signed, only 32-ounce, or quart, and 128-ounce, or gallon-sized, were allowed to be filled and sold to consumers. There was no in between size.
“It was kind of a silly law because we could legally fill two 32-ounce growlers,” said John Denny, the head brewer and one of four owners at First Magnitude Brewing Company in Gainesville. “I’m really happy to see the law being changed to a much more sensible one.”
Denny said he’s excited to be able to legally sell 64-ounce growlers, adding that the 64-ounce growlers are the industry’s standard and the ideal size for the consumer.
In anticipation of July 1, First Magnitude has already created the design and ordered the glassware for their 64-ounce growlers.
Tourists come to Florida for the craft beer industry, according to Denny. Many of whom would bring their 64-ounce growlers to be filled at First Magnitude. Until July 1, he won’t be unable to fill them.
SB 186 also requires that the growlers are filled and refilled by a vendor-licensed brewer in a sealed container for off-premise consumption. The growlers are to be labeled with the anticipated percentage of alcohol by volume and the seal must be unbroken.
In an attempt to keep a large brewer to take over the retail market, the bill states that breweries can only sell their beer at eight locations. There are also limits on how much beer may be transferred from one brewery location to another.
A violation of the growler requirements is a first degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by no more than one year in prison and no more than a $1,000 fine.
But there are still opponents to the bill. Anheuser-Busch wants to maintain the Florida beer laws that went into effect shortly after Prohibition.
Brandon Nappy, marketing manager for Swamp Head Brewery in Gainesville, said he’s excited.
“No more having to break the bad news to craft beer tourism,” he said.