Mitch Rubin: Legislature should quickly lift ban on 64-ounce growlers


For several years, the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association has supported lifting the restriction on 64-ounce growlers. But as most observers know, the Association originally tied its support to the larger discussion of direct brewer to consumer sales.

That was then. And this is now.

As the Executive Director of the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, I want to make it clear that we have not changed our support for lifting the restriction on growlers, but we believe it is now time to separate the growler from the larger conversation.

With that said, our support for growlers recognizes that allowing these new carry-out sizes offers some challenges – all of which can be easily overcome with some simple, sensible requirements.

When authorizing growlers, the Legislature should consider a few important provisions related to container material, seals, labels and sanitation. These suggestions are for maintaining product integrity and public safety. The Florida Beer Wholesalers Association supports the following:

  • Creating a new section of law that expressly authorizes and governs growlers—separate from manufacturer sealed containers
  • Authorizes 32, 64 and 128 ounce growlers made of glass, ceramic or metal
  • Requires sanitation and room for expansion to prevent explosions for product integrity and public health
  • Requires seals and labels for local zoning, open container and public health

We outline these elements in the hope that the Legislature is careful to respect existing laws that prohibit open containers, sales to minors or that attempt to address the risks associated with unmarked alcoholic beverage containers. Because growlers will be filled with alcohol, specifically malt beverages, the new law must ensure public safety above all else and, to that end, must provide for firm but fair enforcement that the public can both understand and support.

Specifying cleanliness, container materials and room for expansion serve product integrity and public safety by helping to avoid bad beer and exploding containers. These protections are good for brewers, retailers and consumers.

To protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the public, the Beverage Law has important and long-standing prohibitions relating to underage drinking and impaired operation of motor vehicles, boats and the like. To the same end, counties and municipalities have adopted ordinances relating to the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages within their respective jurisdictions, which are tailored to their unique communities. State and local law enforcement are then responsible for enforcing such prohibitions and ordinances.

To protect not only retailers and their customers (but also law enforcement officers and the larger community) with respect to the sale, transport, and consumption of malt beverages in growlers, a good bill would contain requirements for labels and seals. A proper label would provide immediate notice that the beverage is an alcoholic beverage, not for example apple juice, and specifies its percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV).  Doing so not only provides basic protections against inadvertent consumption, but aids in the determination of impairment and intent, especially with respect to the prohibition on service to underage persons. A seal would provide immediate evidence that the container, while not one sealed by the manufacturer at the factory, is unbroken or has not been tampered with, which aids in determinations of consumption. Labels and seals also inform and help affected individuals avoid unnecessary disputes with law enforcement officers.

In short, with these few logical suggestions for maintaining product integrity and public safety, the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association supports authorizing a 64-ounce growler. And, of equal importance, we hope lawmakers will consider such a bill quickly and as a stand-alone product to avoid the larger, more complex issues surrounding the manufacturing, distribution and sale of beer and other malt beverages.

Mitch Rubin is the Executive Director of the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, which represents two dozen independent distributors, serving Pensacola to Key West. Collectively they distribute over 1,500 different brands of beer from Florida, around the country, and the world.

Guest Author


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704