Those taking advantage of Texas’ more than 250 craft brewers will enjoy a little more liberty with their lager, as the Texas Senate has joined the Texas House in passing legislation to allow small breweries to sell beer-to-go.
Currently, Texas is the only state that prohibits beer-to-go sales at craft brewery taprooms. When a patron visits one of Texas’ 200-plus craft breweries, they can often sample some suds in the onsite taproom, but as the visit winds to a close, many visitors (especially those from out of town) will often ask if they can grab a six-pack of their favorite brew to take home and share with friends. Under current state law, that is illegal.
Bipartisan legislation to change the law was filed in both the House and Senate at the start of the legislative session this year, only to languish in both chambers without receiving committee hearings.
But when the Texas House took up legislation last month to reform the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the state’s regulatory arm for all things boozy, the bill was amended in a narrow vote to include allowing beer-to-go after an “historic deal” was made between the Craft Brewers Guild—the industry’s trade group—and the Texas Beer Alliance—an industry group which represents beer distributors, a perennial enemy to the craft beer industry.
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 in exchange for the Texas Beer Alliance’s support of the beer-to-go legislation.
Though brewers and free-market-loving Texans cheered the move, victory was still yet to be assured in the Senate as a second distributor trade group—the Wholesale Distributors of Texas—had not yet signed on in support.
After negotiations between the three groups, an agreement was reached.
State Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R–Lakeway), who authored the stand-alone beer-to-go bill in the Senate, offered the amendment on Wednesday.
“Our constituents elected us to be bold, and to that end, I give you beer-to-go, baby,” said Buckingham.
The Senate voted to approve the change unanimously.
“For the first time in Texas, you will be able to take a little bit of your favorite craft beer home to share with friends,” Buckingham said after passing the amendment. “This is a huge win for craft beer enthusiasts.”
House Bill 1545 must now receive final approval again in the House before being sent to the governor’s desk.