Frequenty Asked Questions

What is a beer distributor?

Independent beer distributors, licensed by both the federal and state governments, get bottles, cans, cases and kegs from a brewery or importer to the shelf of your favorite store, local restaurant or neighborhood bar through a safe, transparent and accountable system. Distributors work to help new brands get to market and to ensure that consumers can choose from a vast selection of beer. 3,500 brands of beer are available to Florida consumers.

Florida’s more than 100 independent beer distributors are local businesses that serve Pensacola to Key West.

Independent beer distributors do more than buy, store, sell and deliver beer. They also are small business owners, civic leaders, parents and philanthropists who are active in their communities. Beer distributors play a vital role in working to keep the communities where they live and work safe by sponsoring a wide array of programs to promote responsible consumption, combat drunk driving and work to eliminate underage drinking. Beer distributors also value their role in the state-based system of alcohol regulation that works to keep communities and citizens safe while encouraging healthy competition and a robust marketplace.

What are the benefits of a beer distributor and the three-tier system?


Florida’s distributors source beer from a wide variety of importers and manufacturers. By working with numerous breweries, distributors provide a vehicle to market for the largest multinational beer brands to start-up craft breweries. Because of this system, you can order craft beer from many of the 50 states and imports from every corner of the world.

The three-tier system provides the infrastructure, capital and personnel small breweries need to reach a wide network of retailers. Distributors’ infrastructure includes state-of-the-art warehouses and fleets of temperature-controlled trucks and vehicles that preserve these perishable products. Distributor personnel include not only employees that handle warehousing, transporting and delivering all types of beer to local retailers, but also sales and merchandising professionals who help promote each brand of beer they sell.


Because independent beer distributors help get new brands to market, consumers benefit by having the choice between the largest international brands and the smallest local brews all on the same store shelf, restaurant list and bar tap. Florida consumers can choose from a wide variety of beer brands, ranging from lambics and lagers to porters and pale ales. There is a flavor and style for every palate!

Distributors deliver customized inventory based on the requirements of each retailer in their local market.


Florida distributors provide a clear chain of custody in the sale of beer. Florida’s independent beer distributors are licensed by both the state and federal governments. Distributors source fresh beer only from federally-registered breweries and importers and sell it only to state-licensed retailers including restaurants and convenience stores. This system helps to ensure that retailers hold the appropriate license, do not sell to those under the legal drinking age and comply with local alcohol beverage laws.

The system also ensures that beer is traceable; so if there were a suspected problem with a product, distributors could act swiftly to track the identified product and pull it from the marketplace.


The same controls that provide accountability in beer sales also ensure that the state government can efficiently collect taxes. Because distributors are able to monitor the beer from the time it leaves the brewery until it arrives at a licensed retail outlet, they are best equipped to collect state taxes and help the state enforce alcohol laws. For this reason, Florida finds it more efficient to collect taxes from a limited number of beer distributors than from the hundreds or thousands of retail establishments.


By storing perishable products, providing access to a diverse selection of brands at various price points, and hiring local personnel dedicated to helping sell beer and promote local businesses,Florida’s more than 100 beer distributors provide tremendous value and efficiency to its 44,000 retailers. Distributor services— like monitoring retailer shelves, taps and keg lines to ensure consumers are receiving the freshest product.

Additionally, beer distributors help ensure that bars, restaurants and stores that sell beer do so responsibly and only to those of legal drinking age by routinely providing materials that discourage underage sales. These materials—like signs, posters or stickers— are often seen on cooler doors and at cash registers when consumers purchase beer.

Beer sold in Florida generates over $820 million in federal and state excise and sales taxes.