If you follow me on twitter (@beermonkey), you may have caught this tweet last night:

Was told today that the Governor’s office is aware of #HB660 and is asking questions. Our voice is being heard. Let’s keep it up!

It’s a good sign that our very young campaign for HB 660 is being noticed. Thanks again for all the letters, emails, phone calls and faxes you’ve been sending.

In addition to HB 660, there is another craft beer bill for consideration before the congress this year.  HB 602 (follow link for the text of the bill), filed by Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) is another go around for a bill filed in the past that would make it legal for microbreweries to offer cases of beer to tour-goers. 

 A few of you have asked for more information on HB 602 and how it compares and/or contrasts with HB 660.  Here is my take on it:

HB 660 would:

  • allow Texas brewpubs to sell to distributors and wholesalers
  • allow Texas brewpubs to sell up to 5,000 barrels per year at the pub, directly to consumers
  • allow Texas brewpubs to self-distribute their product to retailers so long as they are under 10,000 barrels per year
  • allow Texas brewpubs to have total production of up to 75,000 barrels per year
  • allow Texas microbreweries to change their license to a brewpub so long they meet the qualifications above

HB 602 would:

  • allow Texas breweries (excluding brewpubs, but including breweries like the A-B plant in Houston) to charge admission for a tour
  • allow Texas breweries to give tour participants up to 48 12-ounce bottles to take for off-premise consumption, without charge
  • not allow Texas breweries to sell beer to the ultimate consumer

Obviously, I support HB 660.  I also believe that the activities that would be permitted by HB 602 should be legal.  If a brewery wants to give you a couple of cases of beer, I believe they should be allowed to.  It should be noted, however, that HB 602 has a very narrow focus that affects only a handful of breweries: A-B in Houston, MillerCoors in Ft. Worth, Spoetzel in Shiner, St. Arnold in Houston, Real Ale in Blanco, Rahr in Ft. Worth, and Independence in Austin (in other words, only the breweries that package beer in 12-ounce bottles).

I support this bill and the efforts of the breweries who would be helped by its passage.  I would however, point to HB 660 as a more comprehensive piece of reform legislation that has a greater reach.  And with the exception of A-B, MillerCoors and Shiner who all exceed HB 660’s size restriction, the Brewpub bill allows the activities that HB 602 seeks to allow, should a brewery decide to change to a brewpub license.  A brewpub is legally allowed to sell you packaged product for off-premise consumption, so long as they have packaged product to sell (most don’t).

You will never find me campaigning against HB 602, as I think it’s a bill that should pass.  However, I believe our state is in need of greater reform that benefits our craft beer industry. 

Cheers,

Scott