Friday, July 02, 2010

a Cigar City plea

You Can Change The Face Of Craft Beer In Florida

Craft breweries in Florida do not have friends looking down on them from the lofty perches of state government. That is a fact. As dispiriting as that might be, it is just a reality that must be accepted. Florida's florist industry likely has more political clout than its small breweries. Craft beer just doesn't register on Florida's elected official's radar; most of whom think of craft beer in pretty much the same fashion as Alabama's Alvin Holmes.

When you are small, young and worse do not have a record as a political campaign donor (and craft beer in Florida doesn't) you don't tend to hear from politicians interested in your plight. For better or worse our state government runs on money and our native breweries don't have excesses of that most essential commodity.

That is why I was shocked (and I am not exaggerating) when State Senator Dave Aronberg sponsored the regrettably failed effort spearheaded by the Florida Brewer's Guild to overturn Florida's antiquated growler and brewpub packaging laws. Yes, I knew that any reasonable person would be in favor of the legislation if the case for it were laid out before them, but then "reasonable person" leaves a depressing amount of wiggle room. I didn't expect a sponsor.

But we got one. Senator Dave Aronberg was the only state elected state official to step up and sponsor the much need growler reform bill. And while it didn't pass, the Senator, whose college roommate was a home brewer (which explains a lot), demonstrated that he understood that craft beer in Florida would benefit from being on the same legal footing as most of the rest of the country. When Senator Aronberg sponsored the bill I hadn't yet met him. But I wanted to.

I have since met with Dave Aronberg. I shared a meal and a beer with him at Tampa Bay Brewing Company. You can tell a lot about a person by not just what they say about themselves, but by the questions they ask of you. Dave Aronberg asked great questions. He wanted to know about the brewing process, the challenges small brewers face, why the current laws were such a hinderance to craft beer growth and perhaps most important the reasons behind our passion for brewing. He was engaged. Interested.

Dave Aronberg is now running for Florida Attorney General, the post current gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum is vacating. Which brings me to the reason I am typing this post. If you have received this missive, you are a fan of Florida's native craft beer scene. You support it with your time, passion and most importantly your limited dollars. I deeply appreciate that support because I and the CCB staff wouldn't be making beer today if not for you. All of us at CCB owe you a debt that we can only hope to repay by continuing to make beers you enjoy drinking.

As much as I appreciate your support and your friendship of CCB, I never the less find it necessary to impose on your good graces, because I think it is necessary. We have until July 14th to donate to the campaign of Dave Aronberg and I want Florida's craft beer fans to not only vote for Dave, but to support him financially to the best of their ability. Craft beer in Florida has literally one supporter in state government and that is Dave. So what I am asking of everyone in this state (even our snowbirds) who loves craft beer and especially locally produced craft beer is to spend a weeks worth of your normal beer buying on donations to Dave Aronberg. Think of it as "sixers for Dave" Florida craft beer's only friend in government. I've already put my money where my mouth is and donated the max. I hope that you will follow my lead.

I understand times are hard for some so if you can't donate at least consider voting for Dave. I also understand that politics are a deeply personal thing and you only signed up to this blog to get beer news. Still I feel like most people would find this important enough to want to know about it. And if Dave's status as Florida's champion of Craft Beer isn't enough for you, I implore you to take a look at his record because I'm certain you'll agree with me that he is that rare man that shows foresight, wisdom and who truly does transcend partisan politics. I don't generally get into my personal politics on this forum, so I'll just say I don't share political parties with Dave, who is a Democrat, but having met him and researched his history, I do deeply respect him.

We have the opportunity to change the face of craft beer in Florida by getting Dave Aronberg elected. For the first time in Florida's history (and I say that taking the long view as a student of Florida's brewing history) small breweries have a chance to elect someone interested in putting Florida's beer laws on par with the rest of the country. Take the time to research Dave Aronberg. Visit his sight. Leave comments. Donate. Vote. The future of Florida's Craft Beer scene is what you make it and at long last you have the chance to make something of it!

Joey Redner

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