Craft breweries and Texans who enjoy a cold one have something to raise a glass to after Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation allowing beer to-go sales from craft breweries across Texas. The bill allows visitors, tourists, and patrons of craft breweries to grab a six-pack of their favorite brew to take home, beginning September 1 of this year.
On Saturday, a larger-than-usual crowd of reporters and capitol staff crowded the Austin Beerworks taproom in North Austin where Abbott held the bill signing ceremony—perhaps due in no small part to the sunny weather and abundant libations. The bill at the center of attention was House Bill 1545, which extends the life of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and has become a vehicle for increasing the freedom of small brewers and Texans with a palate for beverages best enjoyed in a tall pint.
“Today’s signing is a major win for the freedom and economic prosperity for which Texas has become known,” Abbott told those in attendance before giving the bill his signature and cracking open a beer, raising a “toast to freedom” alongside State Rep. Chris Paddie (R–Marshall) and State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R–Granbury), the authors of the bill.
That toast becomes a little more sour, however, when put in context: Texas is the last state to allow beer to-go sales at craft brewery taprooms.
And Paddie, who authored the bill, actually strongly opposed the amendment to allow beer to-go when it was voted on in the Texas House. Luckily for beer enthusiasts, lawmakers defied him and narrowly approved the amendment by a six-vote margin.
Then, when the bill was sent over to the Senate, Birdwell originally stripped the beer to-go amendment out. In fact, only after a “historic deal” was made between craft brewers and the beer distributor groups (who have long been a perennial enemy to the craft beer industry) would he support the amendment being added back in and approved by the Senate. Under the terms of the deal, craft brewers agreed to stand down on other legislative goals—like ending various restrictions on production—for 12 years.
The Saturday signing ceremony marked the last for Abbott this session, with the veto period having ended on Sunday. Craft breweries will be able to start selling beer to-go across the Lone Star State on September 1.