A Texas legislator is aiming to boost support for small craft brewers in his state, which is dominated by Spoetzl Brewery, makers of Shiner Bock, and beer giants Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors.
State senator Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) filed four bills on Tuesday that would enable craft breweries to sell limited amounts of beer on-premise as well as to wholesalers that distribute to grocery and liquor stores, according to kxan.com
“It is in the state’s interest to encourage entrepreneurial and small business development opportunities in the state that will lead to new capital investment in the state, create new jobs in the state, and expand the state and local tax base,” Eltife wrote in Senate Bill 515.
In March 2011, Rep. Mike Villareal (R-San Antonio) proposed a similar piece of legislation, House Bill 660, but it never passed. Scott Metzger, a lecturer at the University of Texas at San Antonio and founder and CEO of Freetail Brewing Co., said that a lack of understanding could have been a possible reason why the bill didn’t pass.
“A big difference from now and then is not just that education amongst legislators,” Metzger said, “but I think that distributors see the way the market is heading and recognize and appreciate the value that small, local producers offer them.”
In December 2011, Austin-based Jester King Brewery filed a lawsuit that challenged what they believed to be antiquated laws in the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. Judge Sam Sparks found two laws to be unconstitutional: prohibiting a Texas brewer from advertising where beer is sold and enforcing whether an offering is a “beer” or an “ale.” Sparks, however, didn’t allow brewers to sell beer to customers on-premise.
Eltife is vying to finish where Jester King left off.
“These bills represent significant, much needed relief for craft brewers to allow them to grow,” Metzger said. “We’ve been fortunate to have the input and cooperation of beer distributors and large brewers, who also see the value in letting the market place work and have a regulatory environment which encourages small business development.”
Metzger also said that despite the current restrictive laws, Freetail has garnered respect and strong demand. The bills proposed by Eltife could help boost that demand by allowing the brewery to escape its own walls.
“I certainly believe in the beers we make and the brand we’ve built, and see unlimited growth potential for our company,” he said. “As Freetail grows, so will the number of people we employ and the capital investment we make to satisfy demand.”