Texas bill would allow breweries to sell beer directly to customers

May 17, 2013 5:31:58 PM PDT
It's legislation Houston-area beer makers will raise a glass to. Five beer bills aimed at making it easier for smaller, local manufacturers to sell their products sailed through the Texas House on Friday.

But what does that mean for you?

These bills died in the Senate last session. This time, they are just they are one vote away from becoming law, and local brewers we talked to say this will even the playing field and create jobs.

The fairness that Texas breweries have been fighting for might finally have reached come to fruition. Since prohibition was lifted, Texas breweries have been barred from selling directly to customers. That means you can't legally buy a pint when visiting a Houston brewery -- something other states already allow.

"So Texas was de facto saying, 'Well you can do that in your state and that's great and that helps you there. And then you can come into Texas and sell against our domestic breweries, but we're going to hold our own breweries and tie on hand behind their back,'" St. Arnold Brewery owner Brock Wagner said.

Newly opened 8th Wonder Brewery, which is located east of downtown, offers three designer beers and is eagerly looking to grow its customer base and its bottom line.

"It would be fantastic to allow, guests who are visiting the brewery to actually buy some beers, tastes what brewing, taste what's in research and development and about to be launched on the market. That will help the brewers gauge the response of their product," owner Ryan Soroka said.

Well, a bill allowing the sale of beer on premise has already passed the Texas Senate and is now in the Texas House, where it appears to have support. If it passes, it most likely will create jobs.

"We've gone, in three years, from 30 employees to over 50 employees. If this law passes, that is going to magnify the number of that things we can do here," Wagner said.

"Create more jobs, expand our capacity, expand product line. It would definitely be a boost to small breweries," Soroka said.

So if it passes, this could be one bill that craft beer lovers will toast too.

"I believe St. Arnold's should be able to grow. And if this is what they need to grow then I think it's a good thing for St. Arnold's," patron Jeremy Barcelo said.

The bills also allow brew-pubs to sell outside their location. Currently, they cannot distribute their beer. The only thing brewers did not get was off-premises sales, meaning no one can buy a six-pack at the brewery and take it home to drink later.

The bills have one final vote Monday before going to Gov. Rick Perry for approval.
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Find Erik on Facebook at ABC13ErikBarajas or on Twitter at @ErikBarajas13


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