It has been a long, bumpy road for Texas brewers seeking to sell beer to go from their taprooms, but they are finally nearing their goal after a crucial eleventh-hour vote.
Wednesday night, the Texas Senate approved the sunset bill that would keep the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission running — and, courtesy of an amendment that was added without opposition, would allow manufacturing breweries in the state to sell canned or bottled beer for take-home consumption.
The House has already OK’d beer-to-go; if it now approves changes to the bill made by the upper chamber, then the measure will head to the governor’s desk.
“This legislation will represent the most comprehensive, positive reform to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code in a generation, serving the entire industry from the brewer down to the consumer,” the Texas Craft Brewers Guild said in a written statement after the Senate’s final vote.
With the likely passage of the bill, Texas consumers will soon be able to buy up to one case of beer per day to take home with them from any brewery in the state. Grayson County’s breweries include Ivanhoe Ale Works in Denison and 903 Brewers and Cellarman’s Pub and Brewery in Sherman.
“It’s a great opportunity for breweries to finally be able to sell beer to-go,” 903 Brewers owner and founder Jeremy Roberts said Thursday. “Texas was the last state to allow breweries to sell beer (this way) and this will be a great thing to help craft beer grow in the state of Texas.”
The Brewers Guild had pushed for beer-to-go sales for six consecutive legislative sessions — to no avail until now. The biggest opponent of beer-to-go had been distributors, represented by the Beer Alliance of Texas and the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, who argued that beer to go would erode the three-tier system that governs the production, distribution and sale of alcohol in Texas. Taking home product from breweries is allowed in all other U.S. states, according to the guild.
In February, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild reached a compromise with the Beer Alliance, but it wasn’t until last week that the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas came to the table, too. Under the new deal, the amount of beer people can take to go from taprooms decreased from two cases per day to one, although one key element remained the same: Breweries can sell the equivalent of up to 5,000 barrels of beer in their taprooms for either on-premise or off-premise consumption.
With those hurdles cleared, the amendment was tacked onto the TABC sunset bill without issue, and the bill was approved by the Senate 31-0.
“Our constituents elected us to be bold, and with that, I give you beer-to-go, baby,” Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway, said during her introduction of the amendment. It is “about more than selling beer to go. It is about job creation, economic development, tourism, support for entrepreneurship.”
Herald Democrat Reporter Drew Smith contributed to this report.