Craft beer bill leaves St. Petersburg brewers concerned

St. Petersburg, Florida — There's a budding brew scene in downtown St. Petersburg; five new breweries have popped up in the last year.

But, a bill ready to hit the senate floor in Tallahassee next week could take a big cut out of these business just as they get off the ground.

St. Petersburg Brewing Company is its namesake's newest brewery.

"If you really like to clean, you like to sanitize stuff, then this is it," said Aida Rivera. "So yeah, it's definitely hard work."

It's no walk in the park to run, and soon it could get even harder.

"We finally get open and now we have this bill that's gonna hamper our future," said St. Pete Brewing Co. brewer Jon McCraken.

Senate bill 1714 will hit the Tallahassee Senate floor next week, and the owner of St. Pete's newest brewery said it would hit his company hard right as it gets off the ground.

"As a local company, the state is gonna put us at a disadvantage against breweries in other states, which is unheard of," said St. Pete Brewing Co. owner Tom Williams.

And whether you're a glass half empty or glass half full sort of person, if the senate bill passes, these craft brewers say they'll be seeing less, forced to fork over 30% of revenue on nearly all sales to a beer distributor if they make more than 1,000 barrels of beer a year.

"Our goal first year was to do a thousand barrels," Williams said. "So the quicker, the faster we can grow, the quicker we get to that penalty to actually hurt our growth."

Over at 3 Daughters Brewing, owner Mike Harting said it's much the same.

"Our beer would A) have to leave here, go to the distributor and then come back or they could just write it into the law that we cut the distributor in, that we literally just cut them a check," he said.


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