Beer Battle Over? Proposed change to Texas law major step forward for craft beer business

Changes in state law could benefit craft beer consumers, producer

By RJ Marquez - Digital Content Curator, Andrew Wilson - Digital Producer, Valerie Gomez - Video Editor

SAN ANTONIO - A decades-long battle that has been brewing in Austin may finally be over with winners on both sides. 

According to the Texas Tribune, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, which represents the interests of local breweries, and the Beer Alliance of Texas, which represents the interest of beer distributors, agreed to a proposal last week that would allow Texans to buy up to two cases of beer per person, per day in places where beer is brewed.

The legislation needs to go through the House and Senate and then be signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, but it is a major step forward for craft beer enthusiasts and local breweries alike.

Texas is the only state where customers cannot buy beer from production breweries to take home.

Craft breweries that have brewpub licenses allow to-go sales.

However, breweries considered brewpubs can not produce more than 10,000 barrels of beer a year and they can not expand their business to include distilling of spirits like bourbon and whiskey. 

“Consumer tastes have changed so dramatically over the years that it’s an antiquated law that hurts businesses such as ourselves,” said Mike Holt, co-founder of Weathered Souls.

Weathered Souls is categorized a brewpub so it allows to-go sales, but the law has been confusing for customers.

Wineries and distilleries across the state allow sales to go.

“The most often question that a brewery gets is, ‘Why can't I buy your beer to go?’” Obviously that’s part of the experience of going to a brewery,” Holt said. “You want to take your favorite pick of the day and of course you remember the brewery and the experience.”

Under the proposal, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild is making compromises as well.

The group has agreed not to lobby the Legislature to adjust the law for 12 years.

The agreement also keeps a limit in place that only allows breweries to sell 5,000 barrels worth of beer a year.

Breweries also have to give more detailed reports to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

“This law is so important and this change is so vital to many craft brewers in Texas that it's something that we had to agree to,” Holt said. “And it will possibly make it difficult on some breweries in the future, but right now, this is what we need to do to thrive.”

Survive and try to thrive is what San Antonio area breweries have been forced to do under current laws.

If legislation is passed, these breweries will get their chance to grow and it will possibly bring more business to the state.

According to the National Brewers Association, the amount of craft breweries in operation in Texas have tripled from 59 in 2011 to 251 in 2017.

With the current laws and limitations in place, Texas still ranks ninth in the amount of breweries across the country.

Holt is hopeful the law will change for the betterment of every brewery in the state.

“There’s so many craft breweries in Texas and the economic impact is so huge that’s its a change that can't be ignored, and the voices are loud enough now to get the attention of the House,” Holt said.

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