Saturday, October 13, 2012

Craft Brewers Try to Find Common Ground

Craft brewers cannot legally sell their beer at their brewery, under Texas laws that have been in place since Prohibition. Brewpubs, on the other hand, can't sell their product to distributors.  They've been trying to change the law for the last few legislative sessions, but are now exploring new tactics to get their cause heard, reports.

The law divides the sale of alcohol into three tiers:  manufacturing, wholesale and retail.  Manufacturers of any size are prohibited from selling their products to consumers directly.  The original intent of the law was to combat monopolies and marketing that promoted "excessive consumption."  But as the volume of craft beers consumed continues to climb, Independent Craft Brewers say that it's time to reexamine the law.

A lack of legislative savvy has hindered the craft breweries when trying to lobby legislators for a change in the law, but the brewers are now trying to align themselves with the two wholesale beer distributor lobby groups that have opposed their measures in the past.  The brewers are currently conducting meetings with the two lobby groups to try and craft a law that benefits the big and the little guys.

The two lobby groups expressed appreciation for the craft brewers, but were a little gunshy of changes to the law that might take a bite out of their distributors' sales.  The craft brewers have at least two state lawmakers on their side, but that might not be enough to get the big guys to loosen up on their share of the sales and allow the little guys to expand their businesses because of the increased revenue on site beer sales would cause.

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