Microbreweries in Texas were only recently legally permitted to sell patrons a pint on-site, but they can't sell that same beer packaged for drinkers to take home. That's a problem, according to one Dallas brewery that is suing the state to change the law.
Deep Ellum Brewing Co. filed a lawsuit against the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission Monday, claiming the alcohol sales law unconstitutionally discriminates against microbreweries. (See the filing in full below.)
[UPDATE Sept. 17 at 11:28 a.m.: Grapevine Craft Brewery today announced it has joined the suit a co-plaintiff with Deep Ellum Brewing.]
"Texas allows every other alcoholic beverage manufacturer -- wineries, distilleries, and even brewpubs to sell their products directly to the end consumer for off-premise consumption," brewery founder John Reardon said in a statement. "The alcoholic beverage laws in Texas have served special interests, protecting private, rather than public welfare, and it's time for change."
To help pay for the fight, DEBC launched an IndieGoGo campaign called Operation Six-Pack To-Go in hopes craft beer drinkers will rally behind them financially. The campaign launched September 16 and within a couple hours had raised more than $12,000, or 12 percent of the $100,000 goal. Operation Six-Pack runs until November 6.
Mariann Morelock, director of communications and governmental relations for TABC, told GuideLive the TABC could not comment on pending litigation.
DEBC's suit comes at a pivotal time for Texas craft beer. The industry has been booming for the last five years, raising the number of microbreweries from two to more than 35 in Dallas-Fort Worth alone. Courthouse News reports craft brewers currently employ more than 420,000 people, and contribute an estimated $2.3 billion a year to the Texas economy.
As the industry grows, however, its movers and shakers are becoming increasingly disgruntled about the laws.
Brewers Michael Peticolas (Peticolas Brewing Co., Dallas), Rhett Keilser (Revolver Brewing, Granbury) and Chip McElroy (Live Oak Brewing Co., Austin) are currently fighting a distribution law that they say undermines microbreweries and forces owners to give part of their business away for free. (The law in question was passed in 2013 and prohibits brewers from accepting money from distributors for the right to sell their product while simultaneously allowing beverage distributors to sell those rights for a profit.)
Both suits allege the laws ultimately hurt consumers by limiting their choices.
"We have taken legal action against our otherwise great state and we are asking craft beer lovers, both near and far to support this cause," Reardon said, adding that crowdfunding this effort "sends the right message because it comes from the people."