Beer glass wars going on in the Florida Legislature

Will beer glasses with logo’s be gone from your local pub?

A battle over beer glasses is under way in the Florida Legislature. Yes, that is not a battle over beer, but one having to do with the giving away of free glasses. Forget healthcare, the budget, and global warming, there is a real battle going on in Florida.

You may go down to your local pub, order a glass of your favorite beer and see the logo on the cold frosty mug. Well in many cases brewing companies give away the glasses as promotional and marketing efforts to get bars to push their product.

The practice has been going on for years. But in the Florida legislature there is a battle brewing.

Last week the process began to move quickly as the Senate Regulated Industries Committee unanimously approved a bill (SB 1040), sponsored by Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, that would allow beer distributors to give away free glassware to bars, restaurants and other establishments that sell beer. Meanwhile, The House bill (HB 853) was passed by the Careers & Competition Subcommittee last week on a 10-4 vote.

The bill’s sponsor Sen. Artiles said allowing the distributors to give away the glassware, which could range from pint glasses to chalices, would “enhance the experience” for beer drinkers while also saving money for the business owners who run bars.

But things came to a head when the industry giant Miller-Coors, fought the legislation, with lobbyist Jon Costello saying allowing the largest brewing companies with “deep pockets” to give away glassware could influence what types of beers are being offered at the establishments.

The bill limits the free glassware to five cases of 24 glasses “per brand, per year.” But that could add up for a company like Anheuser-Busch, which has approximately 60 brands, meaning potentially it could represent a giveaway of 7,200 glasses annually for each bar.

Some feel that this could give an unfair advantage to Anheuser-Busch, and things are getting nasty with Eric Criss, president of the Beer Industry of Florida, the association of Florida’s Miller-Coors distributors, saying that Anheuser-Busch is like a “the python in the Everglades, eating everything around it.”

OK just when you might have thought that things could not have gotten any more bizarre. Joshua Aubuchon, a lobbyist for the Florida Brewers Guild, said the small craft breweries that his organization represents cannot compete with that cost.

Even if a brewer offered five cases to each bar, at a cost of $1 per glass, it could add up to $42,000, assuming the brewery had 350 customers, he said. “We simply can’t afford it,” he said.

This issue is far from over and it will likely only get more heated.

So, there is a battle over giving away free beer glasses that could come to a vote in both the Florida House and Senate.

Rest assured we will keep you updated.

 

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved with Berman Concerts and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.