AUSTIN -- Some new state laws have craft brewers across Texas making a toast. For the first time, the state's brew pubs can go head-to-head with others across the nation.
It's all because of a bill sponsored by Senator Kevin Eltife of Tyler. It allows brew pubs to sell their beers to distributors. Some in the industry say this means more money flowing into their businesses and the state of Texas.
When Davis Tucker opened North by Northwest in 1999, he wanted to sell his craft beers to as many people as possible. The problem was the popular brew pub could only sell its beer on site and not in stores.
“We have bottles, we have growlers, but again, you had to come right here to the brewery to get it,” Tucker said.
Thanks to a new state law, that's all changing.
“You can now legally sell our beer to distributors who can then sell it to get it into the market at grocery stores, pubs, etc,” Turner said. “It really puts us on a much more level playing field with craft breweries from California, from Colorado, New Jersey, all these places that were able to do the things that we're now able to do.”
The passage of Senate Bill 515 means consumers will soon begin finding more craft beers produced in Texas available in stores, bars, and restaurants across the Lone Star State and the nation.
It's good news not just for beer lovers, but for the brewers as well.
“It expands our market, which expands our sales, which low and behold actually creates jobs because the bigger we grow, the more people we need,” Tucker said. “It really benefits everybody across the board including the state, because the more beer we sell the more taxes for the state.”
Jason Bryant works for Adelbert's Brewery in North Austin. He says until recently, commercial breweries couldn't sell their beers on site.
“So we charged for a tour where you get a glass, and you get free beer,” Bryant said.
Senate Bill 518, which also passed this session, allows manufacturers and brewers who produce less than 225,000 barrels a year to be more like a bar.
“We can sell you beer on premises, but we're still not going to be able to sell you beer to take home,” Bryant said. “Wineries and vineyards in Texas are allowed to do it, so we're halfway there on that.”
It's going to take a few months before you start seeing more local brews on store shelves. The breweries and brew pubs who want to take part will have to work with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to get the ball rolling.