Texas’ “beer-to-go” law went into effect today, allowing the purchase of beer direct from breweries and taprooms.
State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez of Austin bought the first beer to go this morning at Zilker Brewing Company on East Sixth Street.
“This is at least two sessions' worth of work to get this thing done, at some level,” said Rodriguez, who led the charge on the law in House. “Texas was the last state to actually allow this in the country.”
While the Democrat helped shepherd the bill through the House, Republican state Sen. Dawn Buckingham of Lakeway steered it through the Senate.
“Beer doesn’t have a party,” Rodriguez said. “Democrats drink beer. Republicans drink beer. When you find something that you can find common ground on, you got to work on that.”
Rodriguez said the brewers he’s talked to feel the law will boost their beer sales.
“It’s really important for these small businesses to give them every opportunity to grow," he said.
For decades, beer sales in Texas have operated on three tiers. Breweries made beer, distributors moved it on to the retailers, which sold it to customers. Breweries could sell beer, but consumers would have to drink it on site, like at a bar or restaurant.
Distributors have historically resisted the change, fearing they might be cut out of their part of the state’s alcohol sales pie.
“I think even distributors will benefit from this,” Rodriguez said. “I know Zilker, for example, where I’m at right now, they self-distribute. So does Austin Beer Works and others. But at some point, the more successful they are, they can’t be a distributor company. They’re brewers, right? The more successful [they are] then they’ll have to go to a distributor.”
Folks who buy their beer and wine from stores may benefit from other big changes to Texas' alcohol laws. Sunday sales hours have been extended. And consumers can now get alcohol delivered. Restaurants and retailers that are licensed can deliver beer, wine and liquor to consumers directly, or through on-demand delivery services.
Correction: A previous version of this post said the law now allowed stores to start selling beer and wine at 10 a.m. on Sundays. It does not.