Beer-to-go? Maybe so

Craft beer enthusiasts took a narrow victory last week when the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow to-go sales of alcohol directly from breweries.

House Bill (HB) 672, authored by State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) and State Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway, also known as the “Beer-to-Go bill,” would allow consumers to buy 576 ounces, roughly two cases, of beer per day from small brewers.

HB 62 also encompassed a historic agreement between the Texas Craft Brewers Guild and the Beer Alliance of Texas. If the bill is approved, Texas would join 49 other states in the U.S. that allow beer-to-go sales from breweries.

“Allowing beer-to-go sales is a common-sense issue that both Republicans and Democrats agree on because it’s good for small business and has come to be expected by consumers,” Rodriguez said in a press release.

If passed, the bill would put breweries of all sizes on a level playing field with wineries and distilleries, which are allowed to sell their products on site. Current rules prohibit breweries from selling suds to go.

“To me, there is no logical position for that … can you argue that this is actually out to protect people, or to hinder the craft beer business,” said John McIntosh, co-owner of Acopon Brewing in Dripping Springs. “Breweries don’t get that right, and it’s a rather odd part of the law.”

Not all breweries are treated the same

Should HB 672 become law, beer-to-go sales would be allowed for businesses that have a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) permit to operate as a brewery.

Current TABC rules prohibit breweries that produce up to 225,000 barrels annually from selling beer-to-go to consumers.

Businesses with a brewpub permit have been able to sell beer-to-go in the past in the form of kegs, growlers and cans. Brewpubs, per TABC rules, cannot exceed production beyond 10,000 licensed barrels per year.

“Brewpubs are more focused on selling out of a retail establishment, while breweries typically focus on distribution,” McIntosh said. “However, a lot of breweries also have taprooms, so no matter the size, ideally you’d be able to sell your product to-go.”

Although a brewpub license made sense for their business, McIntosh argued that the difference licenses could hinder a small business’ ability to grow.

“Think of Founders Day and Songwriters Festival here in Dripping that allow us to make great money because of our to-go sales,” McIntosh said. “If we were in a position to grow and this bill doesn’t pass, it wouldn’t make sense to change our license. That revenue stream is just so important to what we do.”

HB 672 will be heard in the Texas Senate in the next week. If approved by the Senate, the bill could make its way to the Governor Greg Abbott’s desk for a final decision.

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