The owners of two Texas craft beer companies are encouraging the state’s wholesalers to work with them on modernizing alcoholic beverage laws that bar manufacturing breweries from selling beer to go.
During a Brew Talks panel discussion, held last week in conjunction with the National Beer Wholesalers Association Next Generation conference in Austin, Texas, Hops & Grain founder Josh Hare, who also chairs the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, argued that the “marriage” between suppliers and wholesalers should work more like a partnership and less like “a parent-child relationship.”
“Breweries — and I only speak to the region that I’m in — but they’ve been treated more as ‘we’re going to give you an opportunity to work with us,’” he said. “Not a, ‘Hey, we want to grow our business by working with you.’”
Austin Beerworks co-founder Adam DeBower, who also serves as the vice-chair of the guild, added that manufacturing breweries don’t want to be be retailers. Instead, he argued, they want the opportunity to market their brand to consumers, and the chance to build their brands and gain “real world feedback from consumers.”
“This is not about being greedy; this is not a money grab,” he said. “This is about creating that personal experience between the consumer and us.”
Hare, whose brewery is licensed as a brewpub and is allowed to sell to-go beer, added that sales of his beer at an HEB grocery store located about a hundred feet from his facility have continued to grow, even as more consumers have walked away from his tasting room with beer in hand.
The discussion also included NBWA chief economist Lester Jones, who pointed out that, across the country, there have been more than 1,600 regulatory changes to the three-tier system since 2012.
“The system is constantly being updated and changed around the country,” he said. “And it is a state-specific thing. What works in Utah doesn’t necessarily work in Texas, and what works in Colorado may not work in New Jersey or Delaware.”
Jones also gave a look at the current state of the industry, which he said is on the verge of dramatic changes. He pointed to the fact that over the next five years, 10,000 baby boomers a day are expected to retire and go on fixed incomes. Meanwhile, he said, millenials will “substitute what they do today for diapers and daycare.”
“We are headed for a very frugal economy,” he said.
In the video above, Hare, DeBower and Jones discuss the state of craft in Texas, the emerging taproom business in the Lone Star State, the overall beer industry’s relentless focus on volume (as opposed to dollars) and more.