On Saturday, Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 1545 at Austin Beerworks — a local craft brewery. HB 1545, known as “beer-to-go,” renews and slightly revamps the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC).
The most notable aspect of the bill permits licensed breweries to sell take-home beer from their taprooms.
Currently, craft breweries are not permitted to sell beer-to-go, but smaller brewpubs are. This legislation extends that ability to breweries such as Austin Beerworks.
Meanwhile, the main focus of the bill is to extend the TABC for another 12 years.
Abbott said in a statement, “Today’s signing is a major win for the freedom and economic prosperity for which Texas has become known.”
He added, “It is no secret that [the] Lone Star State is one of the best states for business and entrepreneurship, and House Bill 1545 plays an important role in maintaining this by ensuring our beverage industry is free of stifling regulations.”
Saluting the bill’s author Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) and sponsor Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), Abbott said, “I am grateful to the legislators and stakeholders here today who played a vital role in getting this legislation to my desk.”
“Here is a toast to freedom itself in the Lone Star State,” Abbott cheered emphatically while holding up a pint of beer.
Texas boasts almost 5,000 craft breweries and just over 3,000 beer distribution companies.
Early versions of the bill brewed up some stout opposition from the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas (WBDT), worried that beer-to-go would divert money away from distributors. The WBDT could not be reached immediately for comment.
The Beer Alliance of Texas and the Texas Craft Brewers Guild butted heads earlier this year when negotiations over beer-to-go legislation began. Eventually, the two reached a compromise to allow customers to purchase up to two cases per day, or 576 fluid ounces of liquid courage.
But the WBDT opposed the deal, telling the Texas Tribune in February that the WBDT observed a previous agreement, “which did not include authorization for brewers to vertically integrate a beer-to-go component which would unfairly compete with our retail customers.”
Eventually, the WBDT compromised on the compromise, lowering the two cases per day to one.
The WBDT at the time told the Dallas Morning News, “In order to help passage of the TABC ‘sunset’ bill, we agreed to negotiate a more reasonable beer-to-go carve out.”
The law goes into effect on September 1, 2019. Texas beer lovers will — unfortunately — have to wait a bit to reap the benefits that 49 other states currently enjoy.
Ale’s well that ends well.
Correction: A previous version of the article stated that Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) was the lone no vote on HB 1545. He later issued a statement in the journal stating he intended to vote “yes.”
Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad chairing the Edmund Burke fan club.