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7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about The Passing of Beer to Go

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7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about The Passing of Beer to Go

49 out of 50 states in the US allow breweries to sell beer to go.

The one outlier? Texas. That’s hopefully (nearly certainly) going to be changing come September 1, 2019. Beer to Go has unanimously passed in the Texas Senate, but it still has to be signed by the Governor’s office.

People are already celebrating, and rightly so. It’s a huge victory, albeit not 100% complete yet.

There’ll be plenty of folks hollering about the passing of Beer to Go in the next few days, and while we’re hollering right beside them, we wanted to holler in a voice you may not have already heard.

7. Not everybody in the craft beer industry was all systems go for Beer to Go.

Flying Saucer owner Shannon Wynne was vocally against Beer to Go claiming that it’d, “force all other retailers to shut down.” Wynne blames brewery taprooms for cutting in on his business, and while he may be right about that much, Beer to Go won’t be putting any bars out of business that weren’t already destined for it. We still love the Saucer, though.

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6. This didn’t happen overnight, but it sure was quick at the same time.

It took six attempts at six consecutive legislative sessions to get Beer to Go passed. That’s 12 years. That’s a long time. Some of you reading this were still sneaking your Dad’s Lonestars 12 years ago. This time around, it took only a few seconds to amend thanks to vigorous calls, emails, and letters from beer drinkers like you and us. CraftPAC made it super easy for us all to get involved with their online tools, so the voices of many people could be heard. Thanks to Senators Buckingham and Birdwell for their support and for listening to the cries of the people. This is truly grassroots politics in action.

5. Beer=beer.

Prior to this, “Beer” meant a malt beverage under 5% ABV, and “Ale” meant one that’s over 5% despite being grossly inaccurate according to brewing standards. This amendment will help set the record straight, and all of the above will be called beer whether top fermented, bottom fermented, crushable or not.

4. Breweries save on taxes.

Texas breweries were previously paying a higher tax on beer above 5% ABV because of the Ale excise tax. This will be corrected alongside the misnomer. Tax savings means more profit. Since most breweries are lining their floors with more fermenters rather than lining their pockets with money, the tax savings could mean more beer or more options at some of your favorite spots.

3. Self-Distributing breweries have more freedom.

They were restricted logistically, and they’ll now be allowed to have out-of-county warehouses that allow them to serve more of the state and country. Again, the restriction was on “Ales” that were over 5% ABV. Man, that number 5 is the gift that keeps on givin’!

2. Wait times for label approvals will be shorter.

Remember when the federal government was shut down and new beer labels couldn’t be approved? Yeah, that should be a thing of the past should another government shutdown take place. Label approval is now going to be accepted on the state level. Previously, approval at the state level was only for wine and liquor, but not malt beverages.

1. This stuff won’t be happening overnight.

Again, we’ve got our pom poms ready to celebrate, but don’t let the Instagram hype fool you into thinking you’ll be walking away from Saint Arnold with cases of DR or their 25th Anniversary Grand Cru by tomorrow. Aside from Governor signature and the legal stuff, many of these breweries will need to make some adjustments to their business models including Crowler machines, staff to fill them, Co2 for purging growlers, etc., While none of this should slow anybody down too much, just know it’s not happening overnight.

Bonus

While getting beer to go passed is a big win for craft beer in terms of volume players, it’s a tiny win in terms of breweries affected. Saint Arnold, Karbach, Holler, Buffalo Bayou Brewing, and 8th Wonder are the only breweries in Harris County (last we checked) that see any real benefit from this. There are a few others, but roughly 85% of Houston breweries are unaffected by this. It’s more about sticking it to the man than anything, and we’re alright with that.

Sorry to be such a buzzkill. Or maybe we equipped you with some killer trivia knowledge?

Your call.

Either way, keep on drinking good beer, keep on being vocal about unjust legislation, and keep on voting with your dollars. Beers to you, Houston!

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Beer Chronicle Team
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