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State cracks down on canine friends, brewpubs.

August 18, 2018

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The state health department is trying to kick dogs out of local craft brewpubs, where they’ve long been as much of a tradition as cornhole, vintage board games and extra-hoppy India Pale Ales.

Brewpubs are banding up to fight back, mounting a petition drive that asks local politicians to push the issue and allow man’s (and woman’s) best friends to lie around in the pub with their humans.

Mark Stillman, a partner in Green Room Brewing in Jacksonville Beach, started a petition on Change.org and posted it on the brewery’s Facebook page. Other breweries soon widely and enthusiastically shared it on their social media — it’s a close-knit industry.

The petition has passed the 5,000 signatures sought.

Dogs in brewpubs are a common sight at such businesses around the country. It’s kind of a given. Atlantic Beach Brewing Company even features a regular event called “Yappy Hour.”

It’s a perk for customers, said Stillman, those who might feel bad having left their dog at home while they were at work all day.

“Typically it’s in a manufacturing environment, and you’re having your buddy there after a long day of work,” said Stillman, who’s also owner of Bottlenose Brewing in the Tinseltown area. “For our patrons it’s a sad outcome where they can’t come out after a long day of work and have a pint with their buddy.”

Stillman said 11 states have also specifically passed laws allowing dogs at breweries, wineries and distilleries.

Many brewpubs don’t serve food, which has given them a kind of loophole to invite dogs along with their owners. But in a letter from the state shared by Stillman, food is defined as “any raw, cooked, or processed edible substance, ice, beverage or ingredient used or intended for use in whole, or in part, for human consumption.”

This seems to mean that beer, which is what brewpubs are about, is food.

Dogs won’t be completely banned though: They’ll still be allowed on outside patios, the letter said.

Stillman vows to fight on the issue, saying that dogs can make brewpubs that much more sociable.

“I see people walking into a taproom, they may feel a little on edge if they’ve never been in one,” he said. “As soon as they see a dog, that melts away. It really changes the entire demeanor of people who come in.”

Susan Miller helped found Bold City Brewery in Riverside 10 years ago this October. Dogs haven’t been allowed in its small taproom area, but they have been free to come with owners into the warehouse where beer is made. She too got a letter from the state; after hearing of the letter sent to Green Room, she double-checked a pile of mail and there it was.

It made her think of old Duke, a dog who was once the brewery’s mascot and constant companion, and whose mug still adorns every can of Duke’s Cold Nose Brown Ale.

“We had Duke when we opened up,” Miller said, “and when he passed away the Times-Union had an obituary, just for Duke, and we have the beer named after him — it’s a tradition that breweries have dogs around.”

And no with no dogs allowed?

“It’s a sad day in the brewery world, that’s for sure,” she said.

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