Tomorrow begins the 83rd Session of the Texas Legislature, and you can be assured that craft beer will once again be on the agenda.
For practical reasons, my updates won’t be as frequent or detailed as they were in 2011, but I will do my best to keep you abreast of what’s happening with beer inside of The Pink Dome.
I can update you now that there have been a number of very productive discussions between us craft brewers, the legislature, and industry stakeholders. Many thanks are due to Senators John Carona and Leticia Van de Putte for organizing and hosting working group meetings of the entire alcoholic beverage industry to discuss the issues facing our state.
For craft beer and all involved with it, the main issue is ensuring a competitive environment for our state’s brewers while maintaining a viable and healthy 3-tier system that protects the independent of wholesalers. While brewers like myself often find myself at odds with the wholesale tier, there is no debate that the independence of wholesalers has been and will continue to be vital to the growth of small, independent craft brewers.
In the coming weeks, Craft Beer Legislation will be introduced that will represent the most meaningful and comprehensive updating to the 3-tier system in decades. Through numerous discussions with and careful consideration of other industry stakeholders (including large brewers and wholesalers), the legislation will provide a pathway for growth for small breweries to eventually become big breweries. Wholesalers will have a renewed commitment to the 3-tier system. Distributors and retailers will benefit from an increased number of local product offerings. And most importantly, consumers will benefit from finally having access to the Texas breweries they love. I’m very proud of the work we have done while the Legislature has been in off-session, to come to consensus with distributors, large brewers and retailers, in order to make sure Texas is a good place for small breweries to do business. When it is all said and done, I believe the passage of legislation this session will be looked at by other states as a model for alcoholic beverage code modernization that fosters economic development while keeping intact the viability of independent wholesalers.
Stay tuned this session, it should be exciting.