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Rep.Farrar, Jessica

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Craft Brewers Toast Proposed Regulatory Changes  print page

by: Rep. Farrar, Jessica
01/19/2011

Texas microbreweries should be free to offer beer to tourists

AUSTIN, TX -- Seeking to ease growing pains in the state's emergent craft brew industry, Representative Jessica Farrar (Houston) has recently filed House Bill 602, which if passed would allow manufacturers to include bottles of beer or ale with the price of a brewery tour. Currently, brewery tours in Texas may serve glasses of ale for consumption on-site, but the brewers may not send visitors home with sealed bottles. Most alcohol sold in Texas must pass through the "three-tiered system," whereby producers sell the product to a licensed distributor, who then sells it to a retailer.

Craft beer is a new emerging industry in the US. Brewers Association reports that although U.S. beer sales by volume were down 2.7% , craft breweries grew by 7.2%. Saint Arnold Brewery located in Houston increased production by 22% in the past year, and was recently recognized by Forbes magazine for their success.

However, Texas is ranked 47th in number of brewers per capita. Some link this to restrictive laws in Texas that hinder a craft breweries' ability to market products effectively. Representative Farrar's legislation is intended to open up the economic environment for these breweries, allowing them to sell tours and beer to the enthusiasts who flock the facilities in ever-increasing numbers. The bill limits these transactions to two cases per person, a limit tailored to ensure that brewery tours remain a marketing tool and do not transform brewery sites into neighborhood beer markets.

Brock Wagner, founder of Saint Arnold Brewery, summed up the industry perspective: "This bill will help small breweries in Texas grow, add jobs, and compete with out-of-state breweries that have the same rights in their home states that we are requesting. Ultimately it will result in Texas breweries selling more beer through their distributors."
St. Arnold's Brewery, located at 2000 Lyons Avenue in downtown Houston, offers public tours of the facility each week from Monday through Saturday (beer is served for on-premises consumption only!) The Texas Legislature formally convened January 11th, 2011, and will be examining this issue and others in the coming weeks.



Contact: Isabel Longoria

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