Legislative Update: Commentary on the Craft Beer Bills

As consumers who have led the charge in advocating for craft beer, we knew it would be an uphill fight against entrenched and powerful interests in Austin.  Changing the law is no easy feat, particularly when many of those laws date back to the Prohibition Era.

Our goal has been crystal clear from the start:  Provide consumers with better access to craft beer by modernizing Texas laws to support the thriving craft beer industry.  That objective is the yardstick we’ve used to measure each of these bills.  If changing the law would make it more difficult for a craft brewer or brewpub to survive, it would clearly not be in the best interest of consumers.  We support unrestricted access to craft beer and unlimited choices for Texas consumers.
The negotiations have been very difficult and tense over the past several weeks and the senators who are elected to resolve these complex issues have come up with a reasonable, although far from perfect, compromise package of bills for this legislative session.
Below are the highlights from the bills passed in committee yesterday:
  • Consumers will be able to buy beer at craft breweries.  This access is limited to on-premise consumption, so we remain vigilantly committed to fighting for off-premise sales, which would give craft brewers parity with Texas wineries.
  • Consumers will be able to buy brewpub beer at retail outlets, which was previously illegal.
  • Consumers will benefit by seeing more choices of craft beer and ale as the self-distribution limits have been raised to help craft breweries get off the ground.
  • Consumers will see more out-of-state craft beer as the distribution regulations have been equalized between in-state and out-of-state craft breweries.
  • We still have problems with the prohibitive language in SB 639 and would like to see the bill amended to address the legitimate concerns of craft brewers.
This is by no means a perfect package of regulatory changes, but again it is a good step.  Things happen incrementally in legislative bodies, and we will be back next session if necessary to continue the fight to OPEN THE TAPS in Texas.
We still have a few points on our wish list to accomplish, and we are looking for ways to implement those points, but this may be the most we can get at this time and we will consider it more progress than has been made since 1993 when brew pubs were first allowed in Texas, post-prohibition.

One thought on “Legislative Update: Commentary on the Craft Beer Bills

  1. Thank you to the entire Open The Taps team for dedicating themselves to this ongoing fight. It’s not easy being upfront on the fighting lines and the other side doesn’t play fair. Thanks again. But I do have to say that breweries did not gain a lot and lost quite a bit under this session. Distributors made out like crazy, so of course they are happy, but distributors don’t make beer, brewers do.

    As you say, this is not the end, and things can still change. But I think this just shows us again that in Texas and in politics in general, interest groups with big money behind them pretty much can write their own rules and the little people just do not have a voice.

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