‘We need your help’: Florida breweries beg Gov. DeSantis, Sec. Beshears to let them reopen

craft beer
The industry represents more than 10,000 jobs in the Sunshine State.

Florida’s largest brewery association warned Gov. Ron DeSantis Tuesday that more than 100 breweries are likely to shutter soon if they remain forced to limit their operations to a to-go only business model.

In a letter to DeSantis and Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears, the Florida Brewers Guild begged state leaders to make an exception for their industry, which represents more than 10,000 jobs in the Sunshine State.

They warned more than 100 breweries are at-risk of permanently closing within the next two weeks.

“The health of our community is paramount, but it cannot be at the life savings of hundreds of entrepreneurs, the livelihood of thousands of families, and the majority of an entire industry,” the letter said. “We will work with your administration in any way, but we MUST find a way to put our people back to work. Please help us put together a plan that safely reopens our industry.”

According to the group, roughly 90% of breweries in Florida have been closed longer than they have been open in 2020. Coupled with the fact that to-go sales constitute less than 10% of the collective sales for most breweries, the group warned current limitations are an “untenable model for our industry.”

“The Florida Craft Brewing Industry is a manufacturing industry first and retail second,” the Guild wrote. “But one cannot exist without the other.”

Under an earlier emergency order from Beshears, breweries were granted an exemption for on-premise consumption as long as they partnered with a food truck. The latest order, however, eliminated that exemption.

The collective of breweries argued that, by design, they are unlike traditional bars or other nightlife establishments.

The group said their industry “primarily serves our fans between noon and 8 p.m.” and generally caters to families and small gatherings.

“We are not nightclubs or your typical bar,” the group said.

The Guild signed the letter on behalf of the more than 320 breweries in Florida.

“We need your help,” they said. “The entire Florida Craft Brewing Industry is now in jeopardy.”

In late June, Beshears apologized to Florida’s small business for the forced closures.

“Nothing I say or do will stop the pain small business owners are feeling,” Beshears tweeted. “I empathize & understand, I’ve been there. It’s more than u: it’s your employees & the families they support. I’ll keep taking the hate if it makes any of you feel better.”

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


  • DisplacedCTYankee

    July 22, 2020 at 10:57 am

    It sounds to me like a “craft brewery” is a tavern that brews its own beer on site. That is a wonderful thing! But it’s a neighborhood thing. If these brewers want to survive, they may have to find a way to bottle their suds and get it into local stores at reasonable prices. That’s what they would do if craft brewing really is an “industry.” Problem is, the market is glutted with brands; walk into an ABC Liquors to see that for yourself. And beer lovers tend to be brand-loyal.

  • Thomas

    July 22, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    Sorry but this sounds like an excuse to reopen bars through a loophole and we do t need any bars open in Florida right now. You have watched the news recently haven’t you? It does t matter whether you’re watching conservative or liberal news, the fact is, lives matter more than business. We reopened too early and our Governor has been too busy looking out for the President than he has been for his citizens. We need to make people’s health and safety the #1,#2 & #3 top concern. Then we can give consideration to our businesses. Not the other way around. So, NO, Florida can it reopen the breweries. Probably not even before the end of the year.

  • Frankie M.

    July 22, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    I like how Halsey paints himself as the victim here. Just doing my job with selective enforcement and whatnot. The craft beer industry just wants consistent rules and enforcement for everyone. Bars shouldn’t be able to open just because they have hot dog rollers.

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  • dena mcpherson

    July 23, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Breweries can be replaced; people cannot. We have gone far astray in this country if we place profits above the lives of people.

  • Booner

    July 23, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    There are hundreds of endangered businesses in Florida, so a shameless request to carve out an exception for on-premises draft beer consumption is egregiously inappropriate because it clearly ignores the real priorities, namely, the health of their customers and the community.

    In Michigan, where recycling has been a way of life for 40 years, many establishments from neighborhood taverns to “craft beer breweries” sell their Draft beer in refillable Growlers for at-home consumption. A simpler, safer solution to stay in business and protect the environment.

    The Florida Craft Beer Association “breweries” are actually large capacity warehouse-size bars, and their overhead is met by big crowds of customers. These are NOT your neighborhood locally owned pubs. Like Walmart, they suck all the customers away from the smaller establishments.

    This pitiful lobbying effort from a non-essential special interest group is designed to get sympathy. The fact of the matter is, bringing intoxicated crowds of hundreds together indoors will perpetuate the spread of Covid-19. The only words to describe this beg is SELFISH and STUPID. First and foremost, these “breweries” have to find a solution that takes the health of ALL Floridians into consideration.

    Things are pretty bad out there, positive tests and deaths increasing as we speak. No cure, no vaccine, no statewide mask mandate. Hospitals overcome by new Covid cases with overworked personnel and lack of supplies. Let me repeat – Selfish and Stupid!

    Just let the Governor or anyone else approve of nightly Covid-19 drinking parties in these “concert venue size” establishments while restricting other businesses. His legacy will be that he is just another Ugly American, proud member of the Trump cult of sociopaths.

  • Belinda D.

    July 24, 2020 at 8:23 am

    T’his “pandemic” is a made up and fake crisis being used to destroy our economy. Doctors are being paid to diagnose covid-19, even without a test! Hospitals are claiming covid-19 deaths even though it may be from a car crash, because they get MONEY for covid-19. Can’t you see what is happening here? Stop this madness. There are treatments for this corona virus. Why is the FDA telling doctors to take down info that can prevent and cure this? Because it is all about VACCINES AND MONEY!. Wake up people … WE ARE BEING PLAYED!!!

  • Joe Falala

    July 24, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    Well there’s that magic word again. If you don’t know it, the magig word is “but”. It has magical properties. What ever is said before it is magically turned into bullshit. So when someone says “The health of our community is paramount, but” EVERYTHING before “but” is bullshit. The only thing these guys – whoever they are (could be some dork in his basement) care about is the almighty $$$$$$$$ NOT about the community’s health. It’s just more blah, blah, blah to try to make you think that you (the reader) matters, while nothing could be farther from the truth. So the next time you hear someone say “but” remember they don’t really care about anything except themselves

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