After years of being burdened by what many dubbed an unfair regulation, the Texas craft beer industry scored a major legislative victory on June 15. In a ceremony held at Austin Beerworks, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1545, allowing breweries to sell beer to-go beginning September 1. This means Houston craft beer fans can soon take some foam home.
The new law corrects a longtime complaint for Texas brewers. Prior to its passage, Texas was the only state that did not allow beer makers to sell beer for off-premise consumption. Industry advocacy groups argued that small breweries were put at a disadvantage because wineries and distilleries are allowed to sell direct product to consumers.
Texas lawmakers agreed in a rare sign of bipartisanship. Support for correcting the issue was ratified in both the Democratic and Republican 2018 party platforms before state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) and state Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-District 24) introduced companion bills in the legislature in February. The issue was later tacked onto a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission sunset bill before ratification.
The bill also drew the endorsement of two trade associations often at odds. The Texas Craft Brewer Guild, representing almost 300 independent craft breweries, and the Beer Alliance of Texas, representing malt beverage distributors, reached a historic agreement in February to lend support, according to a release.
“[The bill] corrects a glaring disparity in the state’s alcohol laws and gives Texans the freedom to purchase beer-to-go when they visit a local brewery, just like they can when they visit a Texas winery, distillery, or brewpub,” says Rodriguez in a release. “Texas should be a leader when it comes to supporting small businesses, not the last horse to cross the finish line.”
The new law does come with caveats. Each guest will only be able take home 288 fluid ounces of beer a day, the equivalent of case. The cap might not be ideal for doomsday preppers but should do most customers just fine.
Limitations or not, the bill’s passage was cause for celebration. Upon signing the bill, Abbott and key stakeholders marked the occasion by saying cheers with cans of Austin Beerworks’ Pearl Snap.