Though it is difficult to keep up with the over 3,000 bills filed in both the Texas House (987 bills) and Senate (2,369 bills) this legislative session, fans of craft beer and brewing should pay attention to Senate Bills 515, 516, 517, and 518. These bills propose to change Texas law governing the sale and distribution of craft beer in Texas. According to an economic impact study released by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild last year, small, independently owned craft breweries had a $608 million economic impact on the state in 2011 alone. Groups like the Texas Craft Brewers Guild are backing changes to Texas law that would allow small brewpubs and breweries to manufacture and distribute their product to consumers more direcetly. Here’s an overview of how the bills, if passed, would change the current law regulating Texas breweries and brewpubs, including Houston’s own popular Saint Arnold’s Brewing Company:
Senate Bill 515: This bill would increase the annual limit on a brewpub’s total annual production of malt liquor, beer, or ale to 12,500 barrels, from the current 5,000. The bill also limits the amount that the brewpub may self-distribute (rather than sell through a beer distributor) to 1,000 barrels per year.
Senate Bill 516 and Senate Bill 517: These bills would amend the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code to allow a brewer/manufacturer to produce up to 125,000 barrels (from the current 75,000) total of both beer and ale. The amount of ale that a manufacturer/brewer could self-distribute (as opposed to going through a distributor) would be limited to 40,000 barrels annually.
Senate Bill 518: As small craft brewers are currently prohibited from making sales directly to consumers S.B. 518 would allow small brewers (who produce less than 225,000 barrels of beer annually) to devote a small amount of their annual production limit for direct sales to consumers. Sales to consumers will be dedicated for responsible, on-premise consumption and could not exceed 5,000 barrels annually.
If you’re a Texas beer connoisseur interested in following these bills as they move through the legislature, set up bill tracking alerts through MyTLO at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/MnuMyTLO.aspx. Once you have set-up an account and selected the bills you want to track, you will receive an email when actions are taken on the bill. You can also view the committee hearings on these beer bills that took place earlier this week, visit the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce site at: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/senate/commit/c510/c510.htm. Then, click to view the video archives for March 12, 2013- the date the hearings took place.