State legislators file bills to allow beer to-go from breweries

Photo by Emma Janzen / American-Statesman. At Jester King, a brewpub, people can both sip the beer there and take some to go — an option that production breweries are also hoping for with this legislative session and a newly proposed bill.

Photo by Emma Janzen / American-Statesman. At Jester King, a brewpub, people can both sip the beer there and take some to go — an option that production breweries are also hoping for with this legislative session and a newly proposed bill.

2013 was a landmark year for Texas brewers, finally allowing them to sell their beer onsite (for consumption there) if they owned production breweries and to distribute beer beyond their walls if they owned brewpubs.

But many of them said they didn’t want to stop the progress there — they also hoped to tackle the issue of direct sales at breweries that would allow customers to take beer home straight from the source, something that visitors of state wineries and distilleries are currently able to do. That dream might finally be realized with this legislative session thanks to companion bills introduced last week by state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, and state Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland.

“This legislation is designed to finish what we started last session and bring people from around the country to this state which is rapidly becoming the epicenter of craft brewing quality,” Eltife (one of the legislators in 2013 responsible for the sweeping changes to Texas’ beer laws) said in a statement from the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, a group that looks out for the interests of the state’s growing number of breweries.

Already, Texas’ brewing industry has experience enormous growth in the two years since the original bills set off a collective toast around the state. The guild reports on their website that “Texas craft brewers producing less than 225,000 barrels of beer per year — nearly 100 of them — grew 44%.” (These are the breweries the 2013 laws most had an impact on.)

“Overall, craft beer brewers produced 15.6 million barrels of craft beer, giving Texas producers a 5.34% share of the national craft beer market,” the guild’s report said.

And surely, being able to sell beer to-go from brewery taprooms, in cans, bottles or growlers, will continue to increase breweries’ success — especially when it comes to the out-of-state tourists who have thus far not been able to take beer back with them, the guild’s statement about the just-announced legislation said.

“As beer tourism grows, the ability for brewery visitors to purchase souvenir beers enhances the experience for these customers,” the guild said.

However, as with state distilleries, there’s a limit to the amount of beer that people would be able to take home from a Texas brewery. According to the bill, they would be restricted to purchasing the equivalent of two cases of beer once a month.

That’s actually more than visitors to a Texas distillery can currently buy. They’re limited to two 750-milliliter bottles of liquor per month.


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