The Austin Chronicle

Dying in Committee, Part 8: Microbrewery Bill Dead

By Lee Nichols, May 11, 2007, 4:57pm, Newsdesk

The bill in the Texas Legislature that would allow microbrewers to sell their product on the premises of their breweries appears to be dead. This very sensible idea — after all, wineries are allowed to sell their product on site, so why discriminate against beer? – never made it out of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, and at this late date, certainly never will.

"Our bill was opposed by Mike McKinney of the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, and with him opposed to it, we were not able to even get a hearing on the bill in committee," says Brock Wagner, founder of Houston's Saint Arnold Brewing and a leader of Friends of Texas Microbreweries, the coalition lobbying for the law. "We met with all the legislators on the committee and all felt that we were making a very reasonable request, but at the end of the day that didn't matter."

A phone call to McKinney was not returned as of this writing.

Actually, there are two bills, although they are word-for-word identical, just with different authors listed: House Bill 1926 by Houston's Jessica Farrar (in whose district Saint Arnold is located) and HB 2647 by Dripping Springs' Patrick Rose (Real Ale Brewing is located Blanco County). Wagner says he is already looking forward to pushing the bill again in 2009. He'll have to find a way to overcome WBDT's financial muscle: A quick check of contribution reports shows that the organization and its employees have given thousands of dollars to committee Chair Kino Flores, D-Palmview.

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