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Beer Glass Battle Brewing at Capitol

March 31st, 2017 by Jake Stofan

 

There is a battle brewing in the state Capitol over free beer glasses. The state’s biggest brewer wants to give them away free to bars and restaurants, but craft brewers and even a brewer as big as Miller-Coors says it will put them at a competitive disadvantage.

Most bars offer you a cold one on tap in a custom glass.

Bars and restaurants aren’t allowed to accept glasses for free under the state’s Tied House Evil Law.

They have to pay for them at the brewers cost.

But, Anhueser Busch, the Restaurant and Lodging Association, and the Retail Federation are all backing House bill 853.

It would allow beer distributors to give away up to three cases of glasses for up to three brands.

“20 other states do it. Europe does it,” said the bill’s sponsor, State Representative Tom Goodson of Brevard County

The legislation has cleared its only committee in the House where even big-dog brewer Miller-Coors testified against it.

Craft brewers hate it too.

Bryon Burroughs owns Proof Brewing in the shadow of the state capitol.

“It’s basically legalized pay to play. It puts craft brewers at an immediate disadvantage and it’s really bad for small business,” Burroughs said.

 

Josh Aubuchon represents the states Craft Brewers Association.

“It’s a way of Anheuser-Busch coming in and pushing the little guys out, and trying to buy up more tap handles using any means necessary,” said Abuchon.

Small breweries like Proof Brewing have claimed it may cost up to fifty thousand dollars to hand out glasses to all of their clients.

But Goodson says the impact is being overstated.

“You’re talking about usually twenty-four to thirty dollars a case.  A dollar per glass. They are welcome to do it also, and I think you’ll seem them do it,” said Goodson,

The Senate version of the bill will have its first hearing Monday.

The legislation does not address other prohibited gifts such as napkins or serving trays. It cleared its only House committee on a non-party line 10-4 vote this week.

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