AUSTIN — Imagine the scene: You’re sitting at a craft brewery in Texas enjoying a hoppy, frothy double IPA. You like it. It’s refreshing. You want to buy a six-pack of the local brew to bring home.
Only you can’t, because Texas doesn’t allow to-go beer sales from craft breweries. But maybe soon, you can.
The Texas Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday night that, on its face, renews the role of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. It streamlines licenses and permits required for businesses that sell alcohol and removes some fees.
But the bill presented by Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, was also a vehicle for a key amendment that has rankled beer industry leaders for years.
“Everyone needs to pop a top to that one,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said as the “beer to go” amendment was adopted.
The seemingly simple idea of letting consumers purchase packaged beer from craft breweries has been blocked for years by influential wholesale distributors who opposed the idea of increased competition.
But earlier this month, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild and the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas struck a deal. The amendment caps brewery sales at one case, per person, per day.
After the Senate passed the bill, the guild tweeted, “This legislation will represent the most comprehensive, positive reform to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code in a generation, serving the entire industry from the brewer down to the consumer.”
Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, initially filed a beer-to-go bill in the House and helped broker the deal between the industry leaders.
“At last, Texas craft brewers have a clear path toward being allowed to sell Beer-to-Go,” he said in a prepared statement. “Their competitors in all other 49 states are allowed to sell Beer-to-Go, but we’ve had to fight an uphill battle for Texas craft breweries to compete on a level playing field and enjoy access to the same economic opportunities.”
The Senate bill does not include a provision the House approved to allow beer and wine sales to start two hours earlier on Sundays.
It heads to the House, which must approve the Senate’s amendments before sending it to the governor to be signed into law or vetoed. The legislative session ends Monday.