Don't Let the Texas Legislature Limit Craft Brewery Growth
Last week the Texas House has passed a bill, HB 3287, that would limit the growth of the state’s craft breweries. Yes, we're talking about beer distribution laws.
And while we would oppose any legislation that hurts access to delicious craft beer, there is more to this than that.
What does the law do?
Currently, breweries can sell up to 5,000 barrels of beer in their own taprooms directly to customers as long as it is consumed on the premise. This law would change that and force breweries who produce over 225,000 barrels to pay distributors a fee on those 5,000 barrels - even if beer never leaves the brewery. It essentially creates a tax on breweries that goes directly to a middle man - beer distributors.
Why the need for the law?
Great question. It is hard to find any justification for the law.
Brewers of all sizes oppose it. In fact, it's created an unusual alliance between the Texas Craft Brewers Guild and national brewers such as Anheuser-Busch InBev - who have both publically opposed the law.
So who supports this bill? The Texas Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas. Yes, the bureaucratic middleman who would directly benefit from this proposed brewery taproom "tax" is the group pushing the legislation.
Sadly - but not surprising - the Texas Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas just so happen to be one of the largest contributors to Texas state senate and house campaigns.
This bill appears to have been written and passed for one reason - to appease lobbyists who have donated to legislators on both sides of the aisle.
The focus is now on the Texas Senate which is considering a similar bill - SB 2083.
Here’s a sample script:
Hi my name is _____. (If applicable) I am a constituent and my zip code is _____.
I am calling to voice my opposition on SB 2083 and am respectfully asking Senator ______ to do the same. This bill puts a ceiling on success for Texas breweries while setting a dangerous precedent of wholesaler interference in brewery taprooms. I’d like to ask Senator ______ to vote NO on SB 2083.