Last week, we reported that the south has dubious distinction of having the fewest craft breweries per capita. One of the main reasons for this sorry state of affairs is that religious groups and Big Beer support legislation that make life difficult for craft brewers. For instance, the state of Kentucky doesn’t allow brewers to self-distribute, forcing them to sell through third party distributors (which are often owned by the big beer companies). Another example is Florida’s ban on growlers, which some lawmakers are currently trying to repeal.

According to Reuters, Florida, Idaho, and Mississippi are the only states with an all-out ban on 64-ounce growlers, the most popular container size in the industry. The Florida law seems especially irrational in light of the fact that 32-ounce and 128-ounce growlers are legal in the state. The arbitrary nature of the law is one of the reasons The Crafted Keg restaurant in Stuart, FL filed a lawsuit against the state last October, claiming the ban confuses customers and costs the restaurant money.

“People from elsewhere will ask to have their half-gallon growlers filled, but we have to tell them we can’t oblige,” says co-owner Alex Piasecki in a post on The Blaze. “Craft beer establishments like ours can offer to sell customers a new jug in a different size, but we can’t fill up the half-gallon growlers they bring with them. This makes customers feel as if we’re trying to take advantage of them, trying to simply make a sale instead of providing helpful service and good beer in the container of their choice.”

Photo: The Crafted Keg

At least you can get a growler on your beer glass. (Photo: The Crafted Keg)

The customer preference for growlers isn’t hard to understand. Once filled and sealed, the contents can stay fresh for months, which means you can drink draught beer at home that tastes more or less like it came from a tap. Refilling growlers instead of buying six packs is better for the environment, and often better for your wallet. Plus, it allows beer nerds to buy small-batch and obscure brews that aren’t bottled or available in stores.

A half gallon growler contains around four U.S. pints, making it a particularly useful container for two to four people to enjoy. However, it’s also roughly the same amount of beer as a six pack, which is why mainstream brewers have an interest in restricting it. Many states have some restrictions on growler sales, for instance, not allowing brewers to sell growlers to go, or mandating that they can only fill their own growlers and not one that the customer brought in.

The Brewer’s Association tries to keep track of these complicated and shifting state laws. Here’s a map that Portland-based Growler Werks made based on that Brewer’s Association data. The dark green states have good growler availability; light green and yellow states have some restrictions. In red states you’re probably not going to get your growler filled at all.

Photo: Growler Werks

Legislation that protects established brewers and disadvantages craft brewers is anti-business and anti-constitutional, argues the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing The Crafted Keg. The foundation says that leveling the playing field would benefit all Floridians by allowing the craft beer industry to flourish. According to a University of Florida study, the foundation claims the state could eventually support up to 500 craft breweries, about ten times the current number.

We said it last week, and we’ll say it again:

According to the Brewer’s Association, an average of 1.5 new craft breweries opened per day in 2014, contributing to an industry worth $19.6 billion. If Southern legislators stopped hindering that growth in their own states, they could be reaping the economic benefits right about now—and drinking some kickass brews to celebrate.

[via The Blaze]