A Senate panel on Tuesday cleared a measure that would permit stores like Publix and Sam’s Club to hold beer tastings.
The bill (SB 470) was approved unanimously by the Community Affairs committee -- its second unanimous vote this session. Similar bills are moving in the House.
The proposal would repeal the prohibition against beer tastings at places where beer is sold for drinking off-premises. Current law allows only wine and liquor tastings.
The latest version would restrict tastings to stores that have at least 10,000 square feet of retail space, servings can’t be more than 3.5 ounces and the total amount given out can’t be more than the equivalent of two cases of beer.
The bill is supported by the state’s craft brewers, as well as the “big beer” interests of MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser.
Craft brewers already use an exception to Florida liquor law that enables them to open tasting rooms next to their brewhouses.
Allowing beer tastings elsewhere could help increase sales and expand market share, they’ve said.
The bill has to clear two more committees before it can get to the Senate floor.