Possible tweak to controversial brewpub bill - FOX 13 News

Possible tweak to controversial brewpub bill

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

A Hillsborough County commissioner has a bad taste when it comes to Senate Bill #1714, which is making its way through the legislative process.

It would force local brewers to go through a distributor to sell their own product: If they want to sell their own beer at their own brewery, they'd have to buy it back from the distributor.

This might be an uphill battle for opponents. The senate president says he would support it without question -- one of his best friends and campaign donors owns an Anheuser-Busch distributorship.

The owner of Cigar City Brewing says, if he can't get support from Tallahassee, he'll look elsewhere, taking 70 jobs along with him.

"If we are going to bring these companies and keep these companies, they need to know that they are supported in Tallahassee, not crushed. Because when a Joey Redner and Cigar City leaves, other innovative companies will leave as well and that's terrible for our state," Commissioner Mark Sharpe told FOX 13 News, adding, "sometimes these lawmakers need a wake-up call."

Sharpe has even tried to drum up support from fellow commissioners to urge lawmakers to oppose the bill, with little luck.

Local craft beer enthusiasts like Joel Orozco say he would hate to see places like Cigar City close their doors, saying, "it would basically put them out of business when it comes to selling their own product."

"Where I'm from, down south in Miami, there's a huge uproar," he added.

Late Monday, Sen. Kelli Stargel announced that she is pushing an amendment to Senate Bill 1714 that would allow small craft brewers to sell up to 20 percent of their brewed product in bottles or cans to take home.

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