Texas Craft Brewers Guild and Beer Alliance of Texas Reach Agreement on Beer-To-Go-Sales

Two companion bills were filed in the Texas House and Senate last month that, if passed, would allow consumers the ability to purchase beer while visiting their favorite brewery and take it home with them. A luxury that all 49 other States currently enjoy. HB 672, filed by Representative Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin and SB 312, filed by Senator Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway look to change a law that has been on the books since Prohibition.

The passage would also end a decade-plus struggle between Texas brewers, lawmakers, and distributors.

On February 13, 2019, Beer-To-Go moved one step closer to this goal. The Texas Craft Brewers Guild (TCBG), the trade association that represents almost 300 small and independent breweries in Texas, and the Beer Alliance of Texas, (BAT), a trade association which represents malt beverage distributors in Texas, reached a compromise on the hotly contested issue. This agreement has prompted Representative Rodriguez and Senator Buckingham to file amended versions of their bills.

If passed, the revised legislation would allow consumers to purchase up to 576 ounces (or two cases) of beer per calendar day for consumption at home.

“We are so excited to make this incredible announcement of the agreement between the Beer Alliance of Texas and the Texas Craft Brewers,” Senator Buckingham said in a joint press conference with the TCBG, the BAT, Senator Buckingham, and Representative Rodriguez this past Tuesday. “You could go to your favorite winery and bring home a bottle of wine, you could go to your favorite distillery and bring home a bottle of whatever distilled spirits that was, but you couldn’t go to your brewery and bring home some beer. So we think this helps all three tiers.”

There is one caveat to an agreement, however. The TCBG and the BAT agreed that neither would lobby to raise or lower allowable Texas malt beverage caps for a period of 12 years, in order to provide stability in the marketplace, according to both groups.

Josh Hair, CEO of Hops and Grain Brewing in Austin and Chairman of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, added at the press conference that this agreement gives brewers in Texas a lot of certainty on what the next 12 years will hold and make the market more predictable.

The agreement and revised legislation are far from a done deal, however. One more hurdle remains. The Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas (WBDT), who have been one of the most outspoken groups against changing beer laws in Texas, remain opposed to Beer-To-Go sales.

This was not lost on the TCBG, BAT, Representative Rodriguez, and Senator Buckingham. “Obviously we would invite them to sign the agreement,” BAT President Rick Donley said at the press conference. “I understand some of their concerns, we had those concerns too early in, but we need to move on and get some of this negativism out of the discussion. We need to get back to back to promoting and selling beer.” The WBDT could not be reached for comment.

”This is very much a bi-partisan effort,” said Representative Rodriguez at the same press conference. “We believe this will increase the number breweries in Texas as well as breweries in Texas to grow and hire more people and even add more to the Texas economy.”