Texas is the only state in the country that prohibits some breweries from selling six-packs, bottles and growlers of beer to-go, but a pair of bills filed for consideration during the 86th legislative session aim to change that.
Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) and Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) introduced companion bills SB 312 and HB 672, respectively, which would allow manufacturing breweries to sell beer to drinkers for off-premise consumption.
Why is this a big deal?
For years, brewers have been at odds with lawmakers about the right to sell beer to-go. Texans can walk into a distillery or a winery and leave with a bottle to take home. They can do so at brewpubs, too, but not manufacturing breweries because of a stipulation in Texas' laws.
In a statement, Rep. Rodriguez said his bill would correct "a glaring disparity in the state's alcohol laws." Sen. Buckingham echoed that sentiment in a statement, saying the change would "encourage further economic development" and "eliminate this unnecessary government overreach."
More than 7,000 people have signed a petition in support of the bills, according to the Craft PAC, an organization that lobbies on behalf of the interest of Texas' craft brewers.
But not everyone agrees.
In 2015, North Texas' Deep Ellum Brewing Co. and the now-defunct Grapevine Craft Brewery sued the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission over the issue and lost. Earlier this year, the court ruled in favor of the TABC, citing the potential impact to Texas' three-tier system, which aims to avoid conflicts of interest between alcohol manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
In the decision, however, the judge noted that off-premise sales were granted to distilleries and wineries by the legislature, not the courts. That and the support shown for to-go sales during both the Republican and Democratic conventions in 2018 is giving the Texas beer industry hope that the legislation will pass.
"The fact that both parties expressed unequivocal support for beer to-go in their 2018 platforms demonstrates the bipartisan, grassroots momentum surrounding the issue," said Charles Vallhonrat, executive director of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, in a statement.
The 86th Texas legislative session commenced Jan. 8. Bookmark The Dallas Morning News' Texas Tracker to keep up with all the bills on the docket.