The contention over Texas breweries being allowed to sell beer to-go has reached a middle ground.
On Wednesday, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, a trade association representing the interests of small brewers, and the Beer Alliance of Texas, which represents the state's distributors, announced a set of bills that would allow breweries to sell beer to patrons for off-site consumption up to a certain limit (576 ounces or two cases per day, per person).
Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway, and Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, had previously introduced companion bills SB 312 and HB 672, respectively, advocating in the breweries' favor. They plan to introduce substitute bills that include the agreed-upon limit soon, according to a statement.
"This is a big step forward for small Texas breweries and the consumers who enjoy their products," Buckingham said in a statement. "I am grateful to both the Beer Alliance of Texas and the Texas Craft Brewers Guild for their willingness to reach a fair agreement for both sides of this important issue."
The two groups had previously been at odds over the subject and tension continued to mount as the 86th Texas Legislature commenced. 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.
The Texas Craft Brewers Guild began circulating a petition earlier this year, which now has 12,000 signatures, stating the limitation on to-go sales was "nonsensical prohibition." The Beer Alliance had pushed back against the notion, calling it an "exclusive carveout"and "market favoritism" for breweries.
Under the amended bills, breweries would be limited to selling 5,000 barrels annually for off-premise consumption and will be required to report sales monthly the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. It caps the amount of beer that each person can buy to-go. Both groups also agreed not to lobby against the barrelage caps for 12 years.
"We have committed to working with our friends in the craft-manufacturing segment on sensible regulations that provide for a stable and predictable three-tier market in Texas," said Rick Donley, president of the Beer Alliance, in a statement.
"We look forward to the opportunity to provide consumers with greater access to Texas-made beer while ensuring a predictable and effective three-tier system," echoed the guild's president, Charles Vallhonrat.
Michael Peticolas, founder of Peticolas Brewing Co. in Dallas, is cautiously optimistic about the agreement. Production breweries having the right to sell beer to-go has been one of the industry's goals for many years, but he believes the legal vernacular penned in the bill will be the ultimate decider.
"If the spirit of the agreement is ultimately reflected in the actual bill, then it's a big win for Texas craft brewers," Peticolas said by email. "Assuming the moratorium on lobbying the Legislature pertains exclusively to barrellage limit changes, then it's a win. Yes, it's a long time until we can seek to increase those limits, but it's also a long time for our barrellage limits to remain where they are today. The limit has been reduced in the past and I can live with the current limits for quite some time."
The 86th Legislature started Jan. 8. Bookmark The Dallas Morning News' Texas Tracker to keep up with all the bills on the docket.