Crudely done and unofficial photo illustration by Gerard Walen

Crudely done and unofficial photo illustration by Gerard Walen

Tucked in the midst of a long list of provisions to a transportation bill passed by the Florida Legislature is an add-on that should prove to be a real boon to local craft breweries.

The list attached to CS/CS/HB 7061 — Transportation includes this line:

Requires the FDOT to install directional signs for certain breweries on the rights-of-way of interstate highways and primary and secondary roads, subject to certain requirements and requires a brewery that requests a directional sign to pay certain costs.

That’s right, soon local breweries will be able to erect those blue (or maybe green or brown) signs, currently available to local wineries, on roadways to direct craft beer tourists to their taprooms.

Here’s a more complete explanation from the 2016 Florida statutes:

563.13 Florida brewery directional signs; fees.—Upon the request of a brewery licensed under s. 561.221(2) or (3) which produces a minimum of 2,500 barrels per year on the premises, is open to the public at least 30 hours per week, and is available for tours, the Department of Transportation shall install directional signs for the brewery on the rights-of-way of interstate highways and primary and secondary roads in accordance with Florida’s Highway Guide Sign Program as provided in chapter 14-51, Florida Administrative Code. A brewery licensed in this state which requests placement of a directional sign through the department’s permit process shall pay all associated costs.

The statute remains in the final stages of completion, so a few details still need to be worked out.

“We’re waiting to hear back about what ‘available for tours’ means,”  said Kent Bailey, Florida Brewers Guild president and founder/owner of Tampa’s Coppertail Brewing Co. “Would one tour a month qualify?  Or do you have to do multiple tours per day?  We’re not sure.”

Another detail that remains to be worked out is the cost for breweries to have the signs installed, said Josh Aubuchon, who as the FBG general counsel is the point man for the guild’s interaction with the Legislature.

“The estimate was about $250 per sign,” he said,  “and the road signs can be placed on the rights-of-way of interstate highways and primary and secondary roads.”

That estimate is in line with the current cost of the signs for a certified Florida Farm Winery, in addition to an “annual permit fee (that) shall not exceed $50.”

“Each of the seven districts of DOT will handle the signs in their local area,” Aubuchon said.  “The timetable for placement will vary based upon the area – I would imagine the Tampa area will be crowded – and the number of signs requested.”

The official applications from the state remain to be created, but Aubuchon said he’ll have some forms  “to get the ball rolling instead of needing to wait for the final forms”

“Once we get those, I imagine there are quite a few breweries that are going to be clamoring to get their applications in.”

Any brewery owners interested in filling out an initial application or seeking more information should contact Aubuchon at Joshua.Aubuchon@hklaw.com.

I’ll share any developments as they become available.

Florida Brewery Map & List

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