New laws could make craft beer much easier to find in Florida

Craft Beer Pour — Courtesy: Shutterstock — Antov Bannov

Craft breweries are heading to Tallahassee to fight for new laws that could make your favorite beers easy to find.

Among other requests, they want to be allowed to sell their beer wherever they’d like. Currently, they have to go through a distributor.

Matthew Dahm of Mastry’s Brewing Company in St. Pete Beach is helping lead the effort. He believes local craft breweries should be allowed to thrive.

“They’re about the people working in these small businesses, supporting their local neighborhoods, and really becoming a central focal point for their community.”

Dahm is a mechanical engineer who became interested in craft brewing and is now an industry activist with the Florida Brewers Guild.

As it currently stands, he can pour patrons a beer at his bar, but Florida law prevents him from selling it to be served at the restaurant across the street or at a nearby convenience store.

By law, he is required to go through a distributor. He wants the law changed in order to allow craft brewers to distribute their own beer.

“We can put more people to work and do good things for the entrepreneurial small businesses in the state of Florida,” he says.

Dahm and fellow beer brewers around the Sunshine State will meet with legislators beginning Tuesday to advocate for several pieces of legislation, including a bill that would allow them to distribute their own craft beer.

“The state’s current three-tier system that mandates beer must move from the brewer, through a distributor, to a retailer, is outdated,” Dahm says.

“A lot of the laws we’re dealing with today are laws that were put into place right when prohibition ended,” he continued.

With close to 400 craft breweries now operating across Florida, many of their owners say it’s time for lawmakers to tap into the growing popularity of locally-produced craft beer.

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