The Ellon, Scotland-based Brewdog brand has a growing global presence. The punky upstart with big plans started brewing craft beer for U.K. enthusiasts and quickly moved into exporting its beer to other global markets and importing beers to sell in the U.K. It also built breweries and taprooms in Europe and Australia. It also opened a destination craft brewery with an attached hotel in Canal Winchester, Ohio, with several satellite taprooms around the region.
The company now is looking to reenter the Florida market switching from an import brand to a domestic one selling the same products using the Ohio brewery as a U.S. market anchor. The company stopped selling its beer to Florida Importers in 2015. A new petition asks for a ruling on Section 563.022(16), Florida Statutes applies to the initial import manufacturer’s domestic successor. BrewDog is looking for a Declaratory Statement from the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (DABT).
The legal issues include:
- Does the DABT consider laws applicable to the company’s move?
- Is the “successor” outlined in 563.022(16) bound to honor all agreements when the company reintroduces its brands?
- A precedent here in Florida involved somewhat similar circumstances where the import brand set up an office in Florida selling the same brands in the same market. The difference here is that the domestic company was still an importer, while BrewDog will sell domestically produced beer.
No simple solutions are available
There is no decision at this time, but this matter is an example of how complicated relationships can get in the liquor industry where brands come from all over the world. These businesses then need to navigate all applicable Florida laws. Those with questions can often get answers by talking to an attorney that handles alcoholic beverage law here in South Florida.