Beer rules were meant to be…
It’s happened to all of us. We’ve been out sampling the tasty offerings of a local brewery and decided to head home. On our way out we think to ourselves, “I really liked that Pineapple Cream Ale they were serving, I’m going to get a couple to take home.”
We happily ask the bartender for a 6 -pack or crowler and they have the unfortunate job of informing us that because they are a brewery and not a brewpub they are not allowed by the state to sell beer to-go. What? That’s crazy! How can this be?
Opinion alert: Texas beer laws are notoriously awful.
Reason one: they are complex and at many times downright outdated. Many of the Texas beer laws are firmly based on laws that went into effect during prohibition. They are the reason that some beers have to be labeled as “ales” even though they are lagers and that we can’t seem to buy anything alcoholic before noon on Sundays.
But back to the issue of not being able to get to-go beers.
Reason two: there is an unnecessary distinction between two types of brewery licenses, a brewpub and the brewery. A “brewpub” (needing to be under a certain size limit) can sell their own beer to-go and sell other brewery’s beer with additional restrictions on how much they can sell in total.
A “brewery” has fewer size restrictions and can sell for onsite consumption but can sell nothing to-go and only their own products.
Last, and probably most awful, in Texas there is a three-tier system that is the law of the land. It means that there must be three separate entities in beer sales. These are the person who actually brews it, the person who distributes it and finally the person who sells it.
When laws were changed in the past couple of years to allow breweries to license themselves as brewpubs and sell directly to the public, the distributors became upset that they lost a hold on the market. The powerful (i.e. wealthy) group of distributors in turn, spent a lot of money politically to get back that control.
Along with strict restrictions on brew production limit and brewery’s inability to sell their own product to-go, breweries that produce over 225,000 barrels annually have to pay a “dock tax” to the distributors for selling their own beer on site. It never even touches the distributor’s hands.
But it’s not all bad news. CraftPAC was formed to help provide an opposition to the lobbying of the large distributors and the resulting debilitating laws. They are hoping that more awareness on the consumer’s part will allow them to control the flow of their products as they see fit.
If you ever have questions about beer politics, stop by the brew shop (with beer in hand of course) and we can chat until the cows come home. Until next time. Farmboy out.