Tuesday, April 05, 2011

HB 602 Makes It Out of Committee

House Bill 602, which would let Texas microbrewers "give away" up to two cases of their product to visitors after a paid-admission brewery tour, was "reported favorably as substituted" from the Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee this afternoon. (True sales to consumers — i.e., just buying some beer, sans tour — would still be prohibited, unfortunately.)

For those of you who unfamiliar with the Texas legislative process: "reported favorably as substituted" means that a somewhat different version of the bill than what is currently shown on the state's website was substituted (a common practice), and that's what was voted out of committee. I don't know what the differences are between the original bill and the committee substitute. I will try to get a hold of that text ASAP.

(UPDATE: Okay, I have obtained the committee substitute language. Differences between the original and the substitute:
  • Limits the bill to breweries producing 75,000 barrels or less annually. That would exclude Spoetzl (Shiner), which has probably grown well past the point that it needs the help this bill would offer anyway.
  • Reduces the amount that may be given away from two cases to a 12-pack. And actually, the language is changed from "48 12-ounce bottles" to "a total of 144 ounces." The removal of "12-ounce bottles" from the language is an attempt to help the several Texas breweries who currently do not bottle, such as Live Oak or 512.)
Now the bill goes to the Calendars Committee, which will then decide whether to schedule it for debate and a vote on the House floor.

This is not a perfect bill for microbrewers — HB 2436 by Austin Rep. Eddie Rodriguez would be much better, as it would allow true sales — but with the powerful Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas standing in the way, this might be the best craft beer lovers can do for now. (More on this topic in a future blog post.)

Neither of these bills should be confused with HB 660, which would allow brewpubs to sell their beers off-site (i.e., distributed to stores and other bars). That bill is still pending in the same committee, and unlike HB 602, still faces opposition from WBDT.


Bill Shirley said...

Also Southern Star brewery in Conroe, who cans their beer.

Not a legislative, but a legal one: what will constitute a tour? "Here, take this recording and walk into that room"?

I feel like the wholesalers are just toying with them.

Beer Brew Erika said...

There are any new updates to this legislative?

Lee said...

Erika: Nope, that's the update. I'll let you know if it gets through Calendars Committee.