A bill passed in the Texas legislature, known as the beer bill, has many brewers in the state concerned about their ability to expand.
The Texas Brewers Guild, an organization representing brewers across the state, wrote that the bill would put a cap on brewer’s success and do damage to the craft brewing industry in Texas “overnight."
As per the new bill, brewers who produce greater than the 225,000 barrels per year or become acquired by a mega brewer like Anheuser Busch or MillerCoors. now have to participate in Texas’ three-tier alcohol regulation system. The system separates manufacturers, distributors and retailers into three groups to prevent one group from controlling another.
“There’s no reason why a state should tell a brewery not to sell their own beer to their clients, said Albert Salinas, brew master at Ode Brewing company in El Paso. "That’s kind of like having a baker not being able to sell his own bread to his customers. It makes absolutely no sense.
But Amanda Robertson, chief of staff for Texas Representative Craig Goldman, said there are many misconceptions about the bill and a lot of misinformation has been spread.
"House Bill 3287, now current law, makes no change to the requirements or processes of any current independent craft brewer operating in Texas. This bill reaffirms the definition of a craft brewer in this State and sets the industry on a path of continued, record breaking growth," said Goldman, the bill’s author.
Salinas, who has been brewing for nine years and has been brew master at Ode for the last two, is more concerned for the future of his company. The bill will not affect him now, because his brewery does not produce enough beer for the law to apply to him, but he’s concerned it might affect potential Texas brewers down the road.
“So I think more than anything it’s daunting for brewers like me to get investment when there’s bills like this being passed,” said Salinas. “If you’re an investor that’s looking to invest into a brewery you’re going to look at Texas and be like, 'Why would I invest in Texas when I could go to New Mexico or I could go to Oklahoma or California and not ever worry about my brewery's growth?'”
But Salinas admitted the bill, as it currently stands, won't have much of an affect on breweries in Texas at their current production rates.
Brewers who make less than 225,000 barrels a year are still allowed to sell up to 5,000 barrels a year in their taprooms. That’s over 1.6 million 12-ounce beers. According to Goldman’s office, the largest craft brewery in the nation doesn’t sell 5,000 barrels a year in their taproom.
Robertson also told Fox News the bill protects a competitive market by prohibiting mega brewers from being able to acquire an independent brewer and gaining a serious advantage because of their production and monetary resources.
She added that the beer bill does not effect brewpubs in any way, close any existing taprooms, or prevent out-of-state craft brewers from entering the Texas marketplace via the three-tier system.
Ray Bogan is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in El Paso, Texas. Follow him on twitter: @RayBogan