The Statesman on the state of beer in Texas

The Statesman visits an issue with which we are familiar.

Ever wondered why you can’t go to the store and buy a six-pack of the North by Northwest Restaurant and Brewery’s beer? How about one more: Ever wondered why, in a state of 24 million that ranks second-thirstiest in terms of beer consumption, Texas has about, like what, eight craft breweries? Partly thanks to, say many in the business, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission code, which keeps these small brewers from selling you a six-pack to go at the brewery.

Blame the code or blame beer distributors and their lobbyists, who wield a considerable amount of political power when it comes to TABC code changes, some small brewers say.

It’s very similar to the Houston Press story about the state of beer in Texas from October, with an update about current legislation such as HB2094. The brewpubs and microbreweries have done a pretty good job getting their story out about this, so even if they fail again to change the law this session, as is probably the case given the nature of the Lege and the way this session has gone, they’re putting themselves in a position where they can succeed. These things just take time.

One item from the story:

A compromise measure that would allow breweries to sell admission to tours, and for admission to include a beer sale, had a hearing before the House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures last week, and Rick Donley, president of the Beer Alliance of Texas, testified in its favor.

“We had worked real hard with Rep. Farrar to craft some kind of legislation that would allow (brewers) to do some of the things they want to do without disrupting the three-tier system,” Donely said. “You’re not going to walk up and buy beer without taking the tour.”

As for some brewers’ gripe that distributors have disproportionate pull at the statehouse, Donley said: “I wish we had a tenth of the influence they think we have. The fact is the three-tier system has served the state well for many decades.”

I’d say the system has served the system well for many decades. Certainly, the distributors have no problems with it, which is kind of the point. If it served the state as well as it served the existing interests, we’d have a heck of a lot more microbrewers, brewpubs, and beer festivals than we currently do. Thanks to Guardian of the Non Sequitor for the link.

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