News
6:03 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Beer Tastings At The Grocery Store? The Florida Senate Might Make It So

Half-gallon beer growlers are legal in 47 states. Florida isn't one of them. That could change during the legislative session that begins in March.
Half-gallon beer growlers are legal in 47 states. Florida isn't one of them. That could change during the legislative session that begins in March.
Credit stuartwainstock/flickr

How about getting a taste of beer as you fill your grocery cart? A bill moving through the Florida Senate would enable stores like Publix and Costco to offer their customers samples of beer.

Senator Nancy Detert, R-Venice, says it’s only fair.

“Under current law, both spirits and wine -- which have a higher alcohol content than beer -- can be sampled at locations, and beer is prohibited, and I don’t know why,” Detert told the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. “It doesn’t seem to be consistent or make any sense to me that you can have wine tastings but you can’t have beer tastings.”  

Susan Pitman, executive director of Drug Free Duval, would prefer no tastings at all. She told senators, “The prevention community around the state completely opposes tastings.”

Pitman is working to prevent substance abuse among kids, but she says alcohol is showing up at more family friendly places.

“Ten years ago, you didn’t go to a movie theater and have beer or wine or alcohol available. Now, often you do,” Pitman said. “You go to 5K runs now and there are often spirits available.”

The bill passed its first Senate committee but will likely be rewritten. Some senators expressed concerns about the amount of beer that could be sampled and whether tastings would be allowed at places like convenience stores (they won’t).

The same committee is expected to consider another beer bill that’s being rewritten. It would legalize the sale of malt beverages in any size. The sale of 32-ounce containers is allowed, as is the sale of gallon growlers -- refillable beer bottles sold at breweries. But half-gallon containers are banned in Florida.