After a 22-year hiatus in issuing these types of clarifying documents, the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco released “Information Bulletin 2019-001” this month, specifying how malt beverage distributors can give branded glassware to licensed alcohol beverage retailers (called vendors in Florida law, which includes bars and restaurants).
As a starting point, it is important to remember that federal and state alcohol beverage laws generally prohibit an alcohol manufacturer or distributor from giving anything “of value” either directly or indirectly to a restaurant, bar, nightclub, liquor store, grocery store or any type of retail establishment that holds a retail liquor license, unless a specific exception in the law applies. These “tied-house laws” were put in place after the repeal of the Prohibition to, in part, insulate alcohol beverage retailers from undue influence by “big, bad, and rich” manufacturers and distributors of these products. The idea was that certain “evils” emerged from cozy relationships between the three tiers (manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer). As the industry evolved over the last 90 years, a patchwork of legal exceptions emerged, which allow breweries, distilleries, wineries and wholesale distributors to provide certain enumerated things/services to retail alcohol beverage establishments.
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