The Austin Chronicle

Texas Microbrewers Head to Lege

By Lee Nichols, January 3, 2007, 11:39am, Newsdesk

Discrimination is an ugly thing, and Texas microbrewers have decided they won't put up with it.

In 2003, the Texas voters passed Proposition 11, which changed the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code to allow wineries to sell their product on the premises directly to consumers and not just wholesalers. But this provision only applies to vintners, and not to beer makers. Texas' five microbreweries have bonded to form Friends of Texas Microbreweries to lobby for a similar provision for their industry. A microbrewery is a company that produces less than 75,000 barrels per year, but not to be confused with brewpubs, which are bar/restaurants that brew their own.

The movement is being spearheaded by Brock Wagner, the founder of Houston's St. Arnold Brewing Company, and "Evan," the semi-anonymous blogger who created Rick Perry vs. The World.

"We can no longer ignore the fact that 14 out of 19 microbreweries have failed in Texas in part because current regulations disadvantage microbrewing small businesses," said Wagner as he announced the formation of FOTM. "This common-sense proposal will allow Texas microbrewers to compete with out-of-state microbrewers on a level playing field."

Wagner believes the sales at his brewery would probably only amount to around 200 barrels per year, but notes that the profit on those sales would be around $13 per case, about $11.50 more than if sold to a wholesaler. In an interview with the San Antonio Current, he said, "Breweries will be able to take that money, reinvest it in the brewery, market their beer better, grow better, hire more people."

The other breweries in the coalition include Austin's Independence and Live Oak, Fort Worth's Rahr & Sons, and Blanco's Real Ale.

On the movement's blog, Wagner reports that FOTM has visited 11 different legislators' offices, and all were receptive to the idea, although they haven't yet found an official sponsor to carry the bill.

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