This week, people who like beer got good news. A long-running disagreement that had held up Texans’ ability to buy beer straight from the source has ended. The headline of the truce is that both sides—distributors and the breweries themselves—are OK with customers walking out of tap rooms with as much as 576 ounces to go. That is 48 beers. That is two cases. That is a solid amount of hooch.
The truce doesn’t mean much yet, though. Not, at least, until our legislators heed the call of the people to pass it into law. As currently crafted, proposed legislation would allow brewers that make fewer than 225,000 barrels a year to sell it to-go. That was the same level put into place in 2013, allowing beer makers that fell under it to open taprooms. (According to this list from the Dallas Business Journal, none of our local breweries were close to the 225,000-barrel level in 2017. The highest during that year was Deep Ellum Brewing, with about 44,000 barrels.)
Under the agreement, sales of beer bought from taprooms—whether it’s consumed there or taken with you—is not to exceed 5,000 barrels. Both sides agreed to wait at least a dozen years to lobby the legislature to change that number one way or the other. Finally, breweries would report their to-go sales to the state each month.
I rapid-fired some emails out to DFW brewers for feedback on the truce and pending legislation. Here’s what a few of them had to say:
Kat Thompson, CEO/Founder, Texas Ale Project:
“This is a very important part of us being able to grow our brand. Majority of our TAP Room customers are tourists and we’re excited about the potential for them to take home beers they love and share them with others wherever they live. Our objective is not to compete with our retailers for package sales, but rather to expand awareness and trial of our brand through our TAP Room. Thus, consumers won’t find our beers-to-go cheaper at our brewery than they are at other locations, but it will add convenience and it’ll be an effective tool to help us grow our brewery.”
Rhett Keisler, Founder, Revolver Brewing:
“We are definitely for beer loving Texans gaining the right to buy beer to take home from their favorite breweries (a right that wine and liquor consumers enjoy now). We hope that legislation allowing this comes to fruition this year.”
Michael Peticolas, Founder, Peticolas Brewing Company:
“So long as the spirit of the agreement is reflected in the actual bill, it’s a big win for Texas craft brewers. Since well before I opened my brewery, Texas brewers sought this right. Assuming the ban on lobbying the legislature pertains exclusively to barrellage limit changes, then it’s a win. It may be 12 years before we can seek to increase those limits, but it will also be 12 years without any limit decreases. By way of reminder, the legislature lowered our limits when changed last. I can live with the current limits and the stability they bring for some time.
“The key will be drafting concise legal language that is not open to interpretation in any manner other than what’s intended by the parties. In other words, the spirit of the compromise must be reflected in the written law so that it is virtually impossible to question the meeting of the minds when approving the agreement.”
George Esquivel, Co-founder, Four Corners Brewing:
“Potentially, it’s a great first step in the right direction of granting Texas brewers equal rights to Texas wine and spirits companies.”