Beer-tasting bill moves forward in the house

By Matt Galka , Jason Mealey - Producer/assignment editor
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Beer tastings could be popping up at stores around Florida. But the types of stores are limited and some politicians say the limitations go too far.

Major beer companies like Budweiser are backing legislation that opens up beer tastings at stores around the state. The legislation allows stores of 10,000 square feet or more to offer malt beverage samples. It breezed through a House committee Thursday.

"It has to be indoors and it has to be specifically geared toward people over the age of 21. All of that language is in the revised bill," Said Rep. Kathleen Passidomo.

The bill once allowed tastings at all stores. The 10,000  square foot mark was put in place partly to prevent easier access to alcohol by minors.

"They have really tight control so in terms of access to kids if we had seen it, we would have already seen it in wine and spirits which has been doing it for a long time," said Passidomo.

 The bill doesn't let just any place have beer tastings. Brewers say that can hurt small businesses. The legislation won't effect him, but he does worry that it puts the squeeze on independent brewers just starting out.

"In effect it will cut out any small wine and beer retailer that's under 10,000 square feet or that just has a beer and wine license," said Bryron Burroughs.

The bill limits servings to 3.5 ounce cups. A typical can of beer is 12 ounces. Beer brewers were concerned that this benefits big chains like ABC or Publix more than independent brewers. They still said that they support the measure because it gets their product out to more people.

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