An op-ed in the Dallas Morning News recently hijacked beer-related threads on social media, prompting one local brewer to quip, “Could [this article] get any further from reality?”
Penned by Tom Spilman, executive vice president of the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, the opinion piece starts out innocently enough.
“Craft beer is thriving in Texas,” Spilman opens.
Then things begin flying off the rails as Spilman asserts that regulation is to thank for Texas’ craft beer growth. (Thanks, regulations!) First, his reasoning goes, we should worship the three-tier system of alcohol regulation because it prevents market abuse. He then goes on to brag about how generous the distribution market is in the Lone Star State.
“Texas is also one of a handful of states that allows large-scale self-distribution by craft brewers,” he said. “Texas craft brewers are further permitted to operate tap rooms or bars on their brewery premises.”
Wow, so forward-thinking and progressive of us Texans, to allow a business to sell and deliver its products. Breweries still can’t sell retail to go, by the way, and they were only recently allowed to sell from taprooms. And distribution rights have been the target of political horse trading as recently as last year.
Passed in 2017, House Bill 3287 requires breweries that produce more than 225,000 barrels annually to contract with a distributor, even for beer sold from the brewery’s taprooms. Charles Vallhonrat, executive director of Texas Craft Brewers Guild, told me that taprooms are seen as a threat by distributors because they bypass distributors. The bill, Vallhonrat added, is simply a way for distributors to guarantee a cut of that lucrative income stream for themselves. In 2013, State Sen. John Carona of Dallas added a controversial provision to Senate Bill 639 at the behest of Wholesale Distributors of Texas during the last hour of a lengthy negotiation session that spring. The results eliminated millions of dollars in potential income for small breweries and transferred it to the distributors’ own pockets. The bill prompted a lawsuit filed by three craft breweries that is still ongoing.
HopFusion Ale Works co-founder Macy Moore didn’t mince words on his public Facebook post.
“Texas craft beer thrives in Texas DESPITE these antiquated Texas laws not BECAUSE of them,” he said. “These backward/antiquated laws are a noose around any microbrewery in Texas. I can’t think of a single brewer who would say, ‘Thank God we have the laws we do.’ Follow the money if you want to know why we have the laws we do. It won’t trace back to the microbrewery.”
Spilman ignited a great debate, and we can agree with him on one thing — craft beer is thriving in Texas.
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On Tap this Week:
Martin House Brewing Company Big Hoppa Tapping at New Taproom. April 26.
From Martin House: Join us Thursday, April 26th for our open house at the brewery. Admission is $10 for three beers and pint glass between the hours of 6pm and 8pm. Only those drinking will need to pay. We are kid friendly and welcome chairs/tents for the outside lawn. Event page here.
NFL Draft at Panther Island Brewing. April 26.
From Panther Island: Great brews and barbecue. Come watch the first round on our big screen! Claim your spot early and take advantage of our Thursday larty hour (4-7pm)! Event page here.