The language of the bill is below. The bill number is Senate Bill 754 (author: Wendy Davis of Fort Worth), and its twin is House Bill 1062 (author: Lon Burnam, also of Forth Worth). (Hmm … do you think the guys at Rahr & Sons had something to do with this?)
I am a bit concerned that it specifies "ale" and "malt liquor" but not beer. I know that those words have specific (albeit arbitrary and inaccurate) meanings for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. I'll investigate further and give you an update. (SEE END OF THIS POST FOR UPDATE AND EXPLANATION)
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT relating to the sale of ale and malt liquor by brewer's permit holders.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Section 12.01, Alcoholic Beverage Code, is amended by adding Subsection (c) to read as follows:
(c) The holder of a brewer's permit whose premises is located in an area where the sale of ale and malt liquor is legal and who produces at least 1,000 barrels of ale or malt liquor a year may sell ale and malt liquor manufactured or bottled on the permitted premises to ultimate consumers:
(1) in unbroken packages for off-premises consumption in an amount that does not exceed 35,000 gallons annually; and
(2) for consumption on the brewery premises if the brewery is located in an area where the sale of ale and malt liquor for on-premises consumption is legal.
SECTION 2. This Act takes effect September 1, 2009.
UPDATE: Okay, as promised here's what the "ale" and "malt liquor" language is about. Definitions, according to the TABC and Texas Legal Code:
"Ale" or "malt liquor" means a malt beverage containing more than four percent of alcohol by weight.
"Beer" means a malt beverage containing one-half of one percent or more of alcohol by volume and not more than four percent of alcohol by weight, and does not include a beverage designated by label or otherwise by a name other than beer.As I said, the definitions are arbitrary and have nothing to do with proper terminology as used by brewers. Those definitions could cause some problems, though: I just did a quick check of one brewer's website, and noticed that Saint Arnold would be able to sell some of its beers, but not all (their Wheat is 3.9% ABW, and thus fits the definition of "beer" and would be excluded by this bill). If the bill can even get a hearing, the authors may want to include "beer" in the bill as well.
UPDATE 2: On Sunday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's J.R. Labbe wrote an editorial favoring this bill, and did a good job previewing the battle that could kill this bill: Although lawmakers love to extol the virtues of small business, they also like the campaign cash that might come from big distributors who prefer to be the only game in town for beer sales.