Legislation Aims to Help Craft Brewers
Texas is a step closer to the most significant new beer laws in 20 years. This week, the Texas Senate voted 31-0 to approve two bills that will ease regulations on the sale of beer by small craft breweries and brewpubs. Senate Bill 515 would allow small pubs to sell some of their beer in retail stores, while Senate Bill 518 allows breweries to directly sell beer for consumption on site. Rick Donley, president of the Beer Alliance of Texas, which represents large and small distributors, calls this an important step. "There is a tremendous consumer acceptance of craft beer, and we want to try to help that segment grow as much as possible," he tells KTRH. His group and others have strongly backed the legislation as a way of growing the Texas craft beer industry.
Donley also says he understands why the state's current laws regarding beer producers are in place. "Alcohol is a little bit different, it's not the same as selling bread through a bakery for instance," he explains. For that reason, he says the state has long kept tighter control on alcohol producers and their selling practices. However, his organization and many others across the state support easing some of the restrictions on smaller breweries while still maintaining the separation between wholesale production and retail sales. Among the biggest beneficiaries of the new bills will be Freetail Brewing of San Antonio and Houston's Saint Arnold Brewing.
Specifically, Donley explains how SB 518 will help Saint Arnold. "It will allow craft brewers who produce 225,000 barrels or less per year to conduct pub sales on premise only at their facility." But the legislation still has another hurdle to clear before tourists can get out their wallets and drink up. "It's headed to the House where we've already had hearings," says Donley. "And we hope to get quick action in the House and get these bills moved to the governor's desk as quickly as possible."