Texas Lawmakers Vote to Lift Restrictions on Craft Breweries

Categories: Brews News

On Friday afternoon, at 4:07 p.m., a round of applause and cheers wafted down from the balcony seats in House of Representatives as a five-pack of craft beer bills were passed with five thick slams of the gavel. It was technically the second vote of three, and the third, as a matter of formality, should take place Monday. Then the bills will head over to the governor's desk for his signature.

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Scott Metzger of Freetail Brewing in San Antonio was one of those in the upper tier waiting to hear the bills read and tweeted shortly after "All Beer Bills pass to third reading on voice vote! #txbeer4tx we did it!"

Once the final reading is taken care of and the governor signs the bills, the laws will take effect on September 1. For more than a decade craft brewers have fought for tweaks to the restrictive three-tiered system to allow for expanded sells and distribution.

After an unsuccessful campaign in 2011, "craft beer working groups" were set up to bring everyone together and, once and for all, create a package that everyone could agree on. And they sort of did that. In the end there were four bills that covered the main issues.

Then, at the last minute, after the four bills were introduced, Sen. John Carona and the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas threw a curve ball and introduced another bill that that would (will) make it illegal for brewers to sell their distribution rights, an issue they failed to bring up in the working group (that Carona himself set up). Deep Ellum Brewing Co. called it a "huge step backward for microbreweries."

After some tense back-room negotiations, Brock Wagner with Saint Arnold relented that it was an "imperfect compromise," but still feels like the set of bills in sum will allow Texas craft breweries to move forward.

Here's a recap of the primary points in the beer legislation:

• Breweries that produce less than 225,000 barrels of beer annually and are allowed to sell up to 5,000 barrels directly to consumer for on-site consumption.

• Brewpubs are allowed to package and sell 10,000 barrels of beer at the retail level.

• Breweries that produce up to 125,000 barrels annually will be allowed to self-distribute up to 40,000 barrels annually.

• Breweries are no longer allowed to receive payment from wholesalers for the right to distribute their beer. However, they will share in some marketing and promotional costs with distributors.

One issue that was left out this year was the right for small breweries to sell beer for off-site consumption, similar to wineries. There's always 2015.

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It would be really nice to be able to go to a brewery and leave with a case or 4 of your favorite beer. Tracking down your favorite local craft beers and driving to get them at inflated prices reminds me a little too much of being raised in a dry county and having to drive 30 miles to buy booze. Hell, the only Rahr beer that I can find almost anywhere is Ugly Pug and that is the one Rahr beer that I dont like.


This is an interesting change;  for the worse..............under existing law small craft brewers had to find niche markets to sell;  remain close to their customers, and survived by staying local and small;;;;;;; 

Now they don't..............

Under existing law we had an explosion in very small local craft breweries that were closely tied to local bars.......that dynamic will change.


Hmmmnnnnnn.......I see them in Al's, Kroger, Walmart, Tom Thumb, WF, Cen Mkt and every liquor store. Where do you shop?


This makes no sense. Where in these laws does it TELL a craft brewer to grow?

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@CitizenKane But if thes small craft brewers, get their beer out to a larger audience, more people will hear about it, more people will try it, and if the market suggests its popular, one of the larger breweries will pay $$$$ to buy them out.  Its not such a bad thing to make money off your own brew recipe.  If you get bought, well just start over again. 


@Mervis_Earl Suck my dick, Mervis. Krogers and Walmart and most liquor stores around me have Ugly Pug and that is it. Tom Thumb has 2 Rahr beers and MAYBE the seasonal. Central Market is a long drive and overpriced. Don't question my beer searching skills and I won't question your ability to take a punch.


I hear ya and sorry for trolling you. I will say that I think Alaskan has some Bud/In Bev money involved so they are all over the place. Follow the money.

As far as the Rahr dilemma, it comes down to what sells and alot of people like the Pug. If you want the Blond then just tell your favorite grocer and they should stock it for you. Or move to Tarrant County. ;) 


@Mervis_Earl Ive looked for Dallas locals, too. It is strange to me that it is easier to find beers from the Alaskan Brewing Company around here than it is to find beers brewed in DFW.


Just sayin we don't have time to organize a search party.

I really feel bad that I called out your beer searching skills. Maybe try the Dallas locals then.

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