by Mitch Perry
Late Friday afternoon Cigar City Brewing's Joey Redner took to The Ed Show on MSNBC's to tell host Ed Schultz what's so wrong about the legislation that will be taken up by the entire state Senate on Monday.
"I think it's definitely an effort to curtail the growth of craft beer," Redner told Schultz. "It seems like they almost specifically targeted that sweet spot of growth that breweries need to hit. You don't really become profitable as a packaging brewery until you start to get up into the 5,000-barrel plus range. And I think that was one of the reasons they set the numbers so low was pretty much just to curtail even getting up to that point." (2,000 kegs is the equivalent of 1,000 barrels of beer).
"I think this is pretty much anti-Republican, isn't it?" Schultz replied. "I mean, this is government intervention. This is what the Republicans believe in all the time, they want the entrepreneur to go ahead and succeed, yet they're backing people that are going to squash guys like you into hardship"
"It's picking winners and losers," Redner responded."It's taking profits from one company and moving into o the bank accounts of another company, without that company adding any value into the system, so yeah, I'm as confused by it as most people are. I don't understand how you can get that far from what you say and what you do."
Senator Stargel says she supports and wants to maintain the three-tier system of manufacturers, distributors and retailers, the system for the selling and regulation of beer since the end of Prohibition. But doing means calling for more regulations - not less - on craft breweries, something generally thought of as anathema in conservative circles. The fact is craft breweries have seized on what is known as the "Anheuser-Busch loophole," legislation passed by the Florida Legislature in the 1960's which allowed the owners of Tampa's Busch Gardens to sell beer from the brewery on the park's premises. That loophole has now allowed for the explosive growth of craft breweries, growth that the Florida Beer Wholesalers says is hurting them now and will be in the worse in the future without legislative intervention.