Texas is known as a state with low regulations and free markets. You wouldn’t know it from the perspective of local breweries and brewpubs in the state. The brewing industry has some of the most senseless regulations in the state designed solely to squelch competition from new entrants. A bi-partisan group of senators hope to change that this session.
Currently, Texas law prohibits anyone seeking to brew beer from simultaneously selling their product on-site and in retail stores. They have to choose one or the other. Those who only sell to retail stores are known as “breweries,” while those who only sell on-site are known as “brewpubs.”
Senators Kevin Eltife, Brian Birdwell, Eddie Lucio Jr., Leticia Van de Putte, Kirk Watson, and John Whitmire are joint authoring Senate Bills 515 and 518, seeking to breakdown the regulatory barriers holding back breweries and brewpubs from competing with larger, more established players in the marketplace. (Senators Wendy Davis, Rodney Ellis, Craig Estes, Jane Nelson, Jose Rodriguez, and Tommy Williams have joined as coauthors on both pieces of legislation.)
SB 515 would allow brewpub license holders to sell up to 1,000 barrels of beer annually to retailers or qualified persons outside the state. SB 518 would allow smaller breweries to sell up to 5,000 barrels of beer annually to consumers on the brewer’s premises.
In an ideal world, there would be no cap on the amount of beer sold at all. But the politics of repealing back such incumbent-friendly regulations simply wouldn’t allow for it. The greatest chance of freeing up the brewing market in Texas is to gradually push legislation such as this one step at a time.
SB 515 and SB 518 are clear-cut ways for the Legislature to brew up more economic liberty this session. Who knows, you might even be able to buy your favorite local beer at a liquor store on a Sunday if things work out.