UPDATE: Tuesday, 3/12 4pm
Craft beer is one step closer to being much more widely available in Texas. Stakeholders in the Beer Working Group apparently reached a deal before Monday's 5pm deadline and are drafting new language that is expected to pass out of Wednesday's Senate Business and Commerce Committee hearing.
Scott Metzger who has been involved in the stakeholder meetings said that craft brewers, "want the ability for brew pubs to sell to distributors and production breweries to sale on site." and they were not willing to take a deal that, "takes away the value of our businesses".
Check back for developments...
Craft Beer is booming in Texas, but archaic laws in the Alcoholic Beverage Code have prevented brewers from meeting the demands of the market. The industry is not only experiencing double digit growth but while they are only .7% of the market they currently account for 51% of the market's jobs. This session, armed with a strong economic case, they thought they had built the political capital they needed to expand annual production limits, allow craft brewers to sell on premises, as well as make limited sales to wholesalers and retailers. Those and other proposals had been discussed over the interim by a bipartisan group of stakeholders initiated by Sen. Corona (R- Dallas) and led by Sen. Van De Putte (D-San Antonio) called the "Beer Working Group". Now the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas (WBDT) has proposed a second set of legislation that seeks to control the way craft brewers get their product to market and capitalize off of any increased market share by craft breweries. Senator Carona, Chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, has given stakeholders of the Beer Working Group until 5pm Monday, to come to an agreement on proposed legislation.
University of Texas-San Antonio Professor of Economics and self described beer geek Scott Metzger, is also the founder of and CEO of Freetail Brewing Company. He says he is hopeful for a solution but feels as though his industry's bills supported by The Beer Alliance of Texas and the Texas Craft Brewers Guild are being held "hostage" by what he calls the distributors' "self-serving protectionism". Currently the craft brewers have strong support in the Senate with over a dozen members signed on to the bills they are backing (SB 515-18), but they are are concerned that Sen. Carona (Committee Chair) is sponsoring the distributors' bill (SB 639). Metzger says craft brewers are not willing to give up the value of selling distribution rights, their right to self-distribute or adhere to uniform pricing.
WBDT has decided to play inside baseball and avoid talking to press which is probably a good idea when most consumers are likely to see no benefit in limiting their choices. According to a witness at the last Senate hearing while the distributors' bills were being discussed, Sen. Eltife author of the craft brew bills told Sen. Carona, "it takes talent to craft a bill that so many people hate." If the craft bills make it to our Governor's desk lets hope he signs the bill. According to a report by the Texas Tribune WBDT has donated $2.5 million to Perry's campaign over the last decade - so much for the free market.
Economic Impact of Texas Craft Beer
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