This state legislative session might one day be remembered as “The Kegger,” because the Texas alcoholic beverage code, the state’s three-tiered system that regulates the production, distribution and retail sales of beer separately, is under the microscope. Specifically, beer interest groups have been sparring over the accessibility of craft beer. Texas distributions laws, especially their application to Texas’ all-of-a-sudden booming craft beer industry, are bizarre and about as practical as a full bar at a Baptist wedding reception. But it looks like that might change soon.
Sen. Kevin Eltife, a Republican from Tyler, filed a set of bills ( SB 515-518) that would allow brewpubs to self-distribute to retailers, bypassing the time-honored middle man. The measure was supported by The Beer Alliance of Texas, which represents smaller hops jockeys.
Dallas Republican Sen. John Carona (who could probably use a Corona Beer right about now) and Fort Worth State Rep. Charlie Geren filed identical bills in the house and senate (SB 639 and HB 1538) that would take distribution rights away from small distributors. The Wholesale Beer Distributors, which represents the larger suds pushers, were all-abuzz over the proposal.
During a committee hearing, Carona’s bill fell flat in the eyes of pro-business groups. So last week, the Business and Commerce Committee, of which Carona is the chair, tasked beer interest groups to come to a compromise on legislation between the two sides, and it looks as though some tentative deal has been struck. But legislators aren’t disclosing any specifics until the language is hammered out (perhaps a few cold ones might loosen their parched lips).
So raise a glass to Texas legislators who remembered how to compromise. In this divisive political climate, it just makes sense that it took some beer to get two sides to come together.