beer

Under the current law in Texas, brewpubs cannot sell beer to wholesalers and distributors, can sell only to stores but not on site.

For this reason, Texas Beer Freedom, a grassroots effort to support the beer industry in Texas, recently hosted the Texas Beer Freedom Rally to push for the passage of House Bill 660 (HB 660).

HB 660, filed by State Representative Mike Villarreal, would allow Texas brewpubs to sell their beer on site as well as package it for sale in stores. This means you would be able to get beer at a local H-E-B or neighborhood bar from beermakers in San Antonio such as Freetail Brewing Co., Blue Star Brewing Co., and from brewpubs in Austin such as Uncle Billy’s, NXNW Restaurant and Brewery and Draught House Pub & Brewery.

According to supporters of HB 660, the passage of this bill will provide many benefits for the state. It will provide more jobs for Texans, help small businesses grow, increase tax revenue and consumer choice and open the doors for new pubs and breweries to develop in San Antonio.

“As the brewpubs get larger, they’ll have to hire more employees and distributors to distribute the beer,” Lou DiCello from Uncle Billy’s said. “We’re gonna help more people buy milk and bread, basically, by giving them jobs.”

Allowing Texas brewpubs to grow and sell across the state would also increase revenue through sales tax. In addition to improving the economy, founder and owner of Freetail Brewing Co., Scott Metzger, also mentioned the possibility of providing his beer to UTSA to sell on campus and at football games since UTSA is becoming a wet campus.

“I think it’ll only be natural to have local San Antonio beers at our local football games. It’ll be an incredible atmosphere for the games. They definitely go hand-in-hand,” Metzger said.

New brewpubs will also arise if the Texas beer laws are reformed because of decreased restrictions. Johnathan Vielmann, a graduate from St. Mary’s, agreed the passage of HB 660 would inspire more Texas beermakers to open brewpubs and breweries. Vielmann brews his own beer and is currently anticipating opening his own business.

“Drinking local beer creates a small community, a culture in San Antonio. If this bill gets passed I will try more [to start my business],” Vielmann said.

One of the main problems facing the passage of HB 660 is distributors’ skepticism. Some believe the middlemen will be cut out completely, and brewers will gain too much freedom.

“Change. There’s one wholesaler group that does not want to work with us, and they don’t like change,” DiCello said. “[They think] things are going good right now, why rock the boat?”

Contrary to distributors’ beliefs, members of Texas Beer Freedom believe the bill will actually benefit them because of the agreement between brewpubs to use distributors for the sale of its beer. Therefore, distributors will, in fact, gain more clients.

“We have a lot of momentum going for us, but there’s still a lot of fighting for the bill,” Metzger said.

Recently, the Beer Alliance, a lobbyist group in Austin, has signed on with the bill.

“There’s no reason in the state of Texas that a small business cannot sell its beer outside its brewpub, when small businesses in states like California can sell their beer in Texas. In the end, it’s going to take people power,” State Representative Mike Villarreal said. “Like I like to say, change is brewing in Texas.”

To learn how to support House Bill 660, visit http://texasbeerfreedom.org/about/.

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