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State rules for breweries changing

Texas breweries could sell more local beer

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SAN ANTONIO -

The rules implemented by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission on craft brewers in Texas are changing. No longer will the TABC be allowed to prohibit breweries from telling customers where they can find their beer in stores or bars.

TABC also cannot prohibit brewers from describing their beer as "strong" or "full strength." TABC will not be able to require breweries from labeling their product as beer or ale. Previously, a beverage below four percent alcohol by weight had to be called beer. Anything above four percent was called ale.

"The judge's ruling gives us clarity in how the rules should be written in order to implement the statute," said TABC spokesperson Carolyn Beck.

The biggest impact may be for brewers like Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling co-founder Mark McDavid.

"We do tours and we bring a lot of people here, and at the end of the tours when they ask where they can buy our beer, we're generally not allowed to tell them," McDavid said.

The judgment was brought about in a lawsuit against TABC by distributor Authentic Beverages. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks believed the old law to be in violation of the First Amendment.

"It's nice to be a one year old brewery and have laws changed in our favor. It does open things up a little bit," said McDavid.

The changes will invite breweries out of state previously kept at bay to sell their beer in Texas. It's a competition McDavid says will be great for consumers. How it will affect small breweries like Ranger Creek, he said, is yet to be seen.

"There's a finite amount of shelf space out there, so some breweries are a little nervous."

At least for the consumer, McDavid believes a larger variety is good news. McDavid thinks the craft beer culture will only continue to grow stronger because of the ruling. He said that's good for folks on both sides of the tap.


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