I’ve talked to a number of craft brewers lately and one topic that continues to surface is alcohol distribution laws in Texas. Here in the lone star state craft brewers must choose between either a distribution licence for a brewery or a brewpub, they can’t choose both. Below I will explain the difference between the two to the best of my knowledge.
Brewpub License: This license entitles the holder to brew their own beer at their brewpub and sell it on location. However, this license prohibits the holder from distributing their beer anywhere outside of the brewpub. In other words, you will never see Texas brewpub beer (Billy’s, NXNX, Draught House, Love Joys) on any store shelves.
Brewery License (PDF): This license entitles the holder to brew beer at their brewery and distribute it throughout the state. However, the legal hurdle for breweries is the law that prohibits them from selling beer at their brewery. This means that say you go to a brewery tour and afterwards you want to buy a fresh 6-pack to enjoy at home. Well , according to Texas law this is illegal and you’re out of luck. Instead you’ll have to buy that same 6-pack at the nearest store that carries it. This law is especially strange when you consider that Texas wineries do not have to follow this rule. It is perfectly legal to go to a winery, sit down and enjoy a couple of glasses, and even take a bottle home if you choose.
During the last legislative session a number of brewery and brewpub owners actually went down to the capital to lobby for the rules to change. Unfortunately they were not heard and none of the distribution laws were changed. These laws have arguably hindered the creation of craft breweries in Texas because of the limitations they impose. For instance, in states like California and Colorado the beer laws are almost the same as the wine laws and these states have a great deal more craft breweries.
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