Craft beer bills back in business

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In 2011, several bills geared toward the growing craft beer industry in Texas made a splash, but none passed.

Two years later, the craft beer movement in Texas is still thriving and new bills have been filed for the 83rd Texas Legislature.

Senate Bills 515, 516, 517, and 518 were filed by state Sen, Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, on Tuesday.

The legislation would allow small breweries to sell limited amounts of their own beer to customers visiting their breweries.

It will also allow brew pubs to sell a limited amount of their beer to wholesalers for distribution to grocery stores and liquor stores. In 2011, this bill was House Bill 660.

“Government shouldn’t be involved in picking winners and losers in the private sector. Texans believe consumers make the best choices about products in the free market,” said Eltife. “These four bills level the playing field for the small business segment of the Texas brewery industry.”

While the bills in 2011 failed to pass, some small breweries decided to go the lawsuit route to grow their business.

In December 2011, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled in favor of Jester King Brewery against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Because of that ruling, breweries can now call beers that have more than five percent alcohol "beer" instead of "ale." Breweries can now also let customers know where they can purchase the company's beer.

While it's still too early to say how these bills will be received this session, expect to hear from the craft brewers, distributors, and big beer companies over the next few months.


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