It’s been a while since I waxed political on my blog, but each year it seems like the Florida Big Beer industry wants to start throwing regulations onto the GREAT microbreweries that have sprung up in South Florida.

In the last decade craft beers have come to (mostly South) Florida in droves, and the country is starting to take notice. Brands like Tampa’s Cigar City, Boynton’s Due South & Boca’s Funky Buddha, Delray’s SaltWater, Tequesta Brewing Company, Wynwood Brewing Company and lots of others are gaining traction.

According to Florida (and just about every other state) law, if you want to sell beer in shops and bars you need to go through a distributor. If you are too small for distributors to carry your beer, what you will do is bootstrap your microbrewery through selling/refilling “growlers” directly from the brewery and serving beers through a “Tap Room”. Visit Due South and you’ll see this culture at work. Growlers and Tap Rooms allow for microbreweries to test and develop good beers, and it also lets the microbrewer get their name out and raise capital to be able to reach the next big step (which is working with a distributor).

Due South Brewery (image courtesy of the Due South website)

Microbreweries in South Florida have become so popular that for the last few years “Big Beer” companies, like distributor giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, have flexed their political muscle to use the State of Florida’s legal system to crush these small business owners. Miami Herald has a good write-up on this.

The current bills on the respective House and Senate floor are HB1329 and SB7120

Whether or not you are a (craft) beer drinker, the social and economical impact that the craft beer industry has on South Florida is unmistakable. The direct economic impact and jobs that the breweries create, plus the very popular craft beer festivals, are the obvious ways that craft beer is good for Florida. But even more important are the communities that form around small craft beer businesses. This vibrancy is what makes our small South Florida towns special. Towns that are artsy and have a good craft brewing tradition are the types of towns that attract young professionals and encourage other small business and a lively startup ecosystem.

Craft beer is good for South Florida.

Here’s what you need to do (list borrowed from this great article):

– check out this article in the Miami Herald where Senate President Don Gaetz states that he will side with his friend and campaign contributor, an Anheuser-Busch distributor, on the issue

– contact Florida Senate President Don Gaetz and politely let him know you support Florida craft breweries. Encourage him to do the right thing – stick to his Republican principles and help pass a clean growler bill without restrictions to a growing industry creating jobs in Florida!

– find your local representatives in the Senate and House and let them know your opinion

Local beer enthusiasts (showing how they feel about “Big Beer”) at Jupiter Craft Beer Festival in 2011

Also sign this petition on Change.org

If you need more information, please read these two good blog entries.