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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Life + Arts

Brewer seeks legislative help

Local brewery St. Arnold Brewing Company supports a bill that would allow small licensed brewers to sell beer and ale on-site if passed by the Texas legislature.

The bill, which is numbered HB 2094, was filed by Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-TX) March 2 and is pending in the Texas House of Representatives Licensing & Administrative Procedures committee.

If HB 2094 is passed, licensed brewers who produce less than 250,000 barrels of beer and ale per year would be able to sell up to 5000 barrels of spirits annually to customers.

‘It would help microbreweries open. It would make it more desirable for people to go on a tour. It would make the tours more profitable for the breweries,’ Brock Arnold, SABC founder, said.

Arnold said he wants to sell tours of the SABC brewery to customers and then give them souvenir samples of his beer at the end.

He said sales made on-site at breweries would create a better experience for tour-goers, as well as creating new customers who would buy beer at their local retailers.

Hospitality professor and attorney Stephen Barth, who specializes in hospitality law, said the bill conflicts with federal alcohol policy.

‘What you have to understand is that the United States has a three-tier alcohol system implemented prior to Prohibition being lifted,’ Barth said.

The three tiers of the system are the manufacturers who make alcohol, distributors who transport and sell alcohol to retailers and retailers such as Kroger or bars that sell alcohol to customers.

Barth said this divided system allows the federal government to consistently regulate alcohol production.

‘We’re seeing bills like this in other states where manufacturers are trying to sell beer to ultimate customers,’ Barth said. ‘These guys are trying to get permission to do what a retailer would do.’

Student home-brewers hope the bill will pave the way to a legal system more open to manufacturers selling their creations.

‘I understand the idea behind (regulation) is to keep this safe and taxable, but it’s oppressive. It’s kind of one of those things where it’s like ‘If I was really intent on selling it, I’d probably just sell it anyway’ without all of this licensure,’ Matt Barr, chemistry junior and home brewer, said.

‘When you make your own brews, you end up with five gallons of beer,’ John Hemmick, electrical engineering senior and home brewer, said. ‘I would rather sell my beer so I could buy more ingredients instead of drinking the same thing over and over again.’

Hotel and restaurant management sophomore Van Nguyen said the bill’s passage could save customers money.

‘I think it’s better that way, because my parents owned a liquor store. Distributors have a higher price on an alcohol, so retailers have to charge even more. Maybe it’s good for customers to pay a lower price,’ Nguyen said

Barth maintained the architects of the bill would need to consider the legal ramifications.

‘I can see pros and cons to either side,’ Barth said. ‘It’s an opportunity for (brewers) to create a better customer experience, but it certainly infringes on the domain of the retailers.’

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