I was working on a post about some of the various obstacles that are limiting the growth of craft beer culture in Texas, and some of the specific challenges that we, as Texas craft brewers face, when I got an email from Chip McElroy from Live Oak, saying “I need you, no, make that, you need you to get on the HB 2436 loudspeaker. Start spreading the word.”
Chip is right, and I implore everyone who is reading this blog to heed his advice. There are many things that are impeding the progress of craft beer in Texas, but the fact that Texas craft brewers, unlike Texas winemakers and unlike brewers in many other states, have to choose between selling directly to consumers and selling to the trade. Under the current law, you’ll never be able to purchase a glass of beer at our tasting room. HB 2436 / SB 1575 could change that, but unless you’re willing to lend your support and tell Representative Hamilton that this bill matters, it’s unlikely to receive a committee hearing, and will never see the light of day.
The ability to sell directly to consumers isn’t just a luxury — it’s a vital tool that craft brewers need in order to survive and grow. Think about the most successful craft brewers in the US, and you’ll be hard pressed to come up with one that doesn’t have a public tasting room or companion brewpub. On Brewmasters, Sam Calagione referred to his brewpub as the “soul of Dogfish Head”, talking about how it allowed them to test out new recipes and to interact directly with their customers. Texas brewers don’t have that opportunity. If we want to try something new, our choices are to package it for off-site sale and take our chances in the general market, to give it away for free, which usually doesn’t tell us anything (because who doesn’t like free beer?), to drink it all ourselves, or to dump it. We can’t get the kind of immediate reaction that Dogfish Head can, and as a result, unless things change, no Texas production brewery is ever going to be able to do be able to do the type of experimentation that they do. In short, the current legislation is crushing our souls.
These issues may not matter very much to Mr. Hamilton or his committee, but what should matter is that this bill would create jobs, promote tourism, help to stimulate the economy, and, perhaps most importantly, generate revenue for the State without the need to raise taxes. Even distributors benefit, as the only breweries that would be affected are those that already have the right to self-distribute. This bill gives those breweries an opportunity to grow, and will help new ones to spring up, and in as much as the distributors are providing a valuable service, all of these breweries will want to utilize that service.
I don’t know on what basis Representative Hamilton might feel that this bill runs contrary to the interests of the citizens that he was elected to represent, but if that is indeed what he believes, he’s certain to vote against it, but by failing to bring it before his committee for consideration, he’s effectively denying the rest of us an opportunity to have our voices heard.
Call Representative Hamilton right now and ask him to give HB 2436 the hearing it deserves.
Mike Hamilton – (512) 463-0412
Whether you live in Texas or not, you can also show your support for the cause by going to the Facebook page for HB 2436 / SB 1575, and clicking “Like”.
If you're reading this, you need to stop what you're doing and call Representative Hamilton right now.