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Beer Fight Shows Why It’s Important to Pay Attention to Government Regulation of Your Business

If you have a business, you usually can’t afford to ignore governmental regulation and compliance. The amount of regulation that a business is subject to varies depending on industry, but it’s usually always there to some extent.

Beer Makers Fight Over Interpretation of Licensing Regulations

An interesting dispute over the breadth of regulation has arisen in the field of beer and beer sales, particularly the new “craft beer” that seems to be popular nowadays.

Under Florida law, alcohol must be sold by the brewery, to the distributor, to a retail store or bar. There’s one exception to the law, regarding where beer is sold in tourist industries. That’s why beer can be directly sold in some amusement parks around the state by the parks, and they aren’t required to go through distributors.

The law was really just intended for amusement parks, but the craft beer market has, for some time, been using the exception to apply to them, using it to obtain licenses to make their own “gourmet” beers and sell them, sometimes all on their own premises. Craft breweries have grown from six to 90 in the past seven years.

But now the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) has started to fight back, and sued the Florida Department of Professional Regulation to stop them from issuing licenses to these craft breweries. In other words, the big market beer players that have to live with the regulations are crying foul over the craft breweries’ interpretations of the law, and don’t want the state to issue any more licenses to the craft breweries until the law is clarified.

As you can imagine, the small craft breweries are upset, claiming the larger beer manufacturers are trying to squeeze them out of business. The big beer industry says they just want clarification in the law so the playing field—the regulations—are clear for everyone.

The dispute is heightened by the argument over “growlers” – glass jugs sold at breweries and taken home or off the property. Only quarts and gallons can legally be taken off property, not the smaller, more convenient 64-ounce growlers, a regulation lobbied for by big business beer. Small breweries see that as big business pushing for laws to squeeze them out of business.

Fight is a Lesson for All Businesses

The fight between these two sub-industries will continue. But it’s an important lesson in the many workings of government regulation. The wrong regulation can put a company out of business, as can the wrong interpretation of a regulation. Failing to understand and interpret a law or regulation can lead to enormous fines.

In many cases, finding applicable regulations isn’t as easy as looking in our Florida statutes. Rather, the regulations can be in administrative agencies, and codified through administrative codes, municipal codes, or other codes or regulations.

You’ve put a lot of work into making your business successful. Don’t leave a vital part of your business unprotected by ignoring regulations. Contact Tampa business attorney David Toback to discuss your needs and make sure your business is in compliance with rules and laws.

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