Texans would be able to take home beer directly from local breweries if a bipartisan bill before the Texas Legislature becomes law.
Small brewers have been fighting large beer distributors for years over how to get beer into consumers’ homes. Republican state Sen. Dawn Buckingham of Lakeway says the legislation, which has the support of both groups, would make things fair.
“You know, it just didn’t make any sense that you could go to your favorite winery and bring home a bottle of wine,” she said. "You could go to your favorite distillery and bring home whatever distilled spirit that was. But you couldn’t go to your brewery and bring home some beer.”
Democratic Rep. Eddie Rodriguez of Austin has 13 breweries and brewpubs in his district. He said a law would be great for those small businesses.
“But it’s bigger than my district," he said. "We’re talking about over four and a half billion dollars of economic benefit to the State of Texas that breweries bring. This is, at its heart, an issue of fairness and parity.”
The bill puts a cap on how much a consumer can buy directly from a brewery per day: 576 ounces or two cases. It also freezes the amount a brewery can sell in a day at 5,000 barrels for the next 12 years.
“It makes the market more predictable,” said Josh Hare, CEO of Hops & Grain Brewing in Austin and chairman of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. “There’s already enough unpredictability out there with consumer shift in taste and all those other things. So, having an agreement between these two groups is just really incredible. We really feel like we’re all on the right side of this.”
There are more than 250 craft brewers in Texas. In 2017, 1.8 gallons of craft beer were produced for every Texan 21 and older, according to stats from the Brewers Association.
The agreement is years in the making. Under Texas law, there are three “tiers” within the beer industry: brewers, distributors and retailers. Each is kept independent from the others. Distributors have feared being cut out of the equation with direct sales from breweries. Brewers, meanwhile, have contended the law costs them sales and leaves small companies at the mercy of distributors.