New laws could make craft beer easier to find in Florida

Craft breweries are looking to Tallahassee for new laws that could make your favorite beer easier to find. 

Among other things, they want to be allowed to sell their beer where they want. As it stands now, they have to go through a distributor. 

Matthew Dahm of Mastry’s Brewing Company in St. Pete Beach is helping lead the effort. He says local craft breweries should be allowed to thrive. 

"They’re about the people working in these small businesses, supporting their local neighborhoods, and really becoming a center focal point for their community. "

Dahm is a mechanical engineer who became a craft brewer and now an industry activist with the Florida Brewers Guild.

As it stand now, he can pour patrons a beer at his bar, but state law prevents him from selling it to be served at the restaurant across the street or at a nearby convenience store. 

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By law, he has to go through a distributor. He wants the law changed to allow craft brewers to distribute their own beer. 

"We can put more people to work and do good things for the entrepreneurial small businesses in the state of Florida," he says. 

Dahm says he and fellow craft brewers from around the state will meet with legislators starting Tuesday to advocate for several pieces of legislation, including a bill that would allow them to distribute their own beer. 

The state’s current three-tier system that mandates beer must move from the brewer, through a distributor, to a retailer, is outdated, Dahm says.

"A lot of the laws we’re dealing with today are laws that were put into place right when prohibition ended," he says. 

With nearly 400 craft breweries now operating across Florida, many of their owners say it’s time for lawmakers to tap into the growing popularity of locally-produced beer.