STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
Craft breweries in the state raised a glass in celebration May 22 as the Texas Senate passed a “beer-to-go” amendment to House Bill 1545.
The overall bill is the Sunset review legislation for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The amendment would allow craft brewers to sell their beer directly to consumers at their facilities.
Bear King Brewing Company of Marble Falls sees the bill as a “huge win for all breweries in the state.” If signed into law, as expected, by Governor Greg Abbott, the bill will take effect September 1. The bill was sent to the governor on May 29.
“We’ve definitely been following it closely over the past few months, and we’re really proud of the Texas Craft Brewer’s Guild for getting this done,” said Bear King co-owner Grant Guidry. “This has been a long time coming, and we’re excited to have the opportunity for people to take our craft beer home with them.”
State Senator Dawn Buckingham authored Senate Bill 312, which died in the Legislature. She proposed an amendment to the TABC Sunset review bill with similar language.
Buckingham (R-Lakeway) represents Senate District 24, which includes Burnet, Llano, Blanco, Gillespie, and Lampasas counties.
On the Senate floor on May 22, Buckingham said the amendment took the cooperation of State Representative Eddie Rodriguez, State Senator Brian Birdwell, the Beer Alliance of Texas, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, and the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas.
“I can tell you this amendment is more than just about selling beer to go,” Buckingham said. “It is about job creation, economic development, tourism, and support for entrepreneurship — issues that I know that are important to every one of you in this room.”
Buckingham received thanks from the Texas Craft Brewers Guild in a statement after the amendment’s passage in the Senate.
“This legislation will represent the most comprehensive, positive reform to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code in a generation, serving the entire industry from the brewer down to the consumer,” the guild tweeted.
Real Ale Brewing Company of Blanco is another craft brewer that will benefit from the amendment.
The beer-to-go amendment establishes some limits to how much beer can be sold.
“Under this amendment’s provisions, craft breweries would be able to sell up to one case of beer per person, per calendar day. The amendment retains the 5,000-barrel limit for taproom sales, and any amount sold direct to consumer for on- or off-premise consumption would count against this cap,” Buckingham said.
In preparation for September 1, Guidry said Bear King is working with Dallas-based agency Citrus Advertising to finish its packaging and 12-ounce can designs.
“We’re definitely working hard to get our system up and running, so we’re expecting to have our product ready to go out our doors starting September 1,” Guidry said.
Bear King’s efforts aren’t only due to the beer-to-go amendment. The brewery also wants its products distributed at other licensed retailers.
Guidry said the brewery is working to get its distribution program running, which will include self-distributing to local retailers — such as bars and music venues — for on-premise consumption as well as off-premise retailers like grocery stores and liquor stores.
And, like at brewpubs, customers on September 1 will be able to have growlers filled at the brewery.