October 29, 2014 / 10:21 PM / 6 years ago

Florida's craft beer growler ban battle spills into federal court

ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - Florida’s ban on selling craft beer in reusable 64-ounce jugs known as growlers is harming brewers and their drink-loving customers, a lawyer who is suing the state said on Wednesday, asking a federal judge to overturn the unusual restriction.

“Everyone seems to agree that the ban makes no sense, that it’s irrational,” said Mark Miller, managing attorney for the Atlantic division of the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation.

The foundation is suing on behalf of The Crafted Keg, a restaurant that sells craft brew in Stuart, Florida, and which says the prohibition confuses customers and costs it money.

Florida is one of only three states that ban 64-ounce growlers, the most popular size in the industry, notes the lawsuit filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The others are Idaho and Mississippi, Miller said.

“Simply put, the law is so illogical that patrons cannot understand it,” the lawsuit said, adding that tourists think The Crafted Keg is trying to fool them when servers cite the restriction.

“The Crafted Keg regularly loses business based on the Growler prohibition,” the lawsuit adds.

Under Florida law, craft beer can be sold in less popular 32-ounce and 128-ounce growlers, as well as in cans, bottles, pitchers and kegs.

The state’s Republican-controlled legislature has refused to rescind the prohibition, said Miller, noting pressure from national beer-makers and distributors who are watching national sales of craft beer soar while overall beer sales dip.

An attempt to overturn the ban in the 2014 legislature died after a provision backed by distributors was added that also would have forced craft breweries to sell all of their bottles and cans to distributors rather than directly to customers.

The lawsuit names the heads of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and its Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. A department spokeswoman said they had not yet been served with the lawsuit on Wednesday and had no comment.

Editing by Letitia Stein and Eric Walsh

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