By Nick Ivory, Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager
During Advocacy’s trip to Florida, we stopped by 81Bay Brewing Co. to learn about regulatory issues affecting small brewing companies. Founded just recently in 2016, the company was established by three native Floridians and longtime friends with the concept of crafting an establishment that revolves around beer, relaxation, and recreation. The tap room includes an extensive bar, multiple community tables, and a stage for live entertainment, multiple TVs, and many games including table tennis, corn hole, darts, and pool.
We spoke with 81Bay President Michael Beard, one of the three founders, regarding the regulatory climate for microbreweries as he experienced it while starting and growing one of his own.
Beard discussed the process for applying for the certification needed to brew beer for sale through the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the federal entity that regulates and collects taxes on trade and imports of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms within the United States. When 81Bay was starting out, the time it took to get TTB certification was long and difficult. However, Beard mentioned that recently, the application process has become much quicker and more responsive, due to the fact that it seems like they have more people reviewing and processing the applications. Large corporate breweries can afford to have entire departments who deal with the certification process, but smaller breweries don’t typically have that luxury.
Beard highlighted the fact that Florida is one of the last booming markets for craft breweries starting up and hoping to make it big, as these markets in other regions of the country are pretty well established and tougher to break into. Although the state mandates breweries to go through distributors to get their product to retailers (restaurants, liquor stores, etc.), 81Bay was able to take advantage of an exception in the law that allows breweries to pour pints, sell cans, and even fill growlers on their own property without going through a distributor. This has allowed them to push a lot of their beer out the back door directly to their customers, Beard explained. Aside from that, 81Bay enjoys a great working relationship with their distributor that has helped their product get tremendous reach in the market, making their craft beers available in restaurants like Tampa’s famous Bern’s Steak House, Miller’s Ale House, and many others.
Advocacy was in Florida for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables June 5-7th.
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Nick Ivory is the Regional Legislative and Regulatory Manager. Ivory can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.