Breweries and brewpubs around the state rejoiced after Governor Perry signed several craft beer laws into effect earlier this month.
These laws are largely beneficial for both kinds of beer producers, and mark a big step forward for Texas as a beer producing state. In addition to increasing revenue for each business and creating more opportunities for jobs, it will also change what you can drink and where – mostly for the better.
Senate Bill 515 gives brewpubs the right to sell their beer to distributors and retailers. Prior to the law changing, brewpubs could only sell their house beers directly to customers (to be sipped at the pub, or carried home in a growler to drink later), significantly reducing their commercial reach.
Now brewpubs can sell their beer in kegs and cans to distributors, so they can wind up on the shelves of your local grocery store, and on tap at your favorite bars. Here’s a breakdown of what the local brewpubs have in store, in light of their new rights.
Uncle Billy’s: Plans to expand production capacity, so they can distribute beer in 16 oz. cans.
Black Star Co-Op: Will also can their beer for distribution, and they plan on building a second location that’s also licensed as a brewpub to make more room for production.
The Draught House: The brewpub has said they don’t have the capacity to offer off-site sales, but they are excited to offer beers from their brewpub "brothers and sisters."
Pinthouse Pizza: Don’t have any immediate plans to distribute outside of the pub, but hope to begin selling kegs directly to customers from the pub later this summer, thanks to a recent expansion in fermentation capacity.
North by Northwest: Also currently working on expanding their facilities, adding two 30 bbl tanks to their current facility, and searching for a new space for a full packaging facility so they will be able to can and keg more beer as well.
Flix Brewhouse: No current plans to expand, but are eager to entertain the idea of selling kegs to local drinking establishments.
The other bill that’s going to change everything for craft brewers is SB 518, which allows local craft breweries to sell their beer for on-premise consumption (meaning you can only drink the beer at the brewery itself).
Before the law was passed, during weekend tours, breweries were only allowed to give their beer away for free, so they would charge a standard fee for a pint glass to be filled with samples. Some will stick to tradition, but in many cases, brewers will opt to sell their beer and make some money.
The majority of breweries will expand their tap room hours, so people can visit more often to buy beer straight from the source. Others are working on plans to build taprooms and bar areas to accommodate on-site sales.
A handful are in the process of converting their licenses to brewpubs, so they can not only sell their beer for both on and off-premise consumption (breweries still can’t sell their products for guests to take home with them; right now customers must drink the beer they purchase at the brewery itself), but also continue to distribute their beers to local grocery stores and bars as well. Hops & Grain, Infamous Brewing Co. and Jester King will all take this approach. It’s worth noting that changing a license to brewpub doesn’t necessarily mean the business must serve food. All of the breweries above will opt to not do this.
It’s a brave new world for beer making in Texas, and now it’s even easier for thirsty patrons to find their favorite brews. Check out the list below for more specific plans from each local beer company.
Austin Beerworks: Plans to develop a new bar area, hire serving staff, and develop an appropriate pricing structure to sell beer by the glass are underway. The brewers are looking forward to being able to offer seasonals, one-offs, test batches and other experiments that will only be available at the brewery.
Real Ale: The brewery is still entertaining long term plans, but will likely move the tasting room to a larger space, and sell beer on site when that happens. Right now, the current tour day on Fridays will continue to take place from 2 to 5 p.m. (tours at 3 and 4 p.m.), with free samples of beer until they determine an appropriate pricing structure.
Live Oak Brewing: Tours will continue to take place on scheduled Saturdays at 5 p.m. Check website for details. Tours are currently free, but the brewery says they might start charging in the future. They plan to move to a new, larger location in the future where they will have the capacity to sell beer on site.
Circle Brewing Co.: Plans to launch a weekly happy hour are in the works, to sell beer for on site consumption.
Hops & Grain Brewing: Owner Josh Hare applied for a brewpub license earlier this spring in anticipation of the laws changing. Starting in July, they will entertain expanded tap room hours from Thursday and Friday from 2 to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Beer is already being sold by the pint for on-premise consumption on Fridays from 2 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.
Thirsty Planet: Saturday tours will remain the same (tours launch at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.) until current expansion plans are complete. After that (likely in a few months), they will expand their tasting room hours likely to Thursdays and Fridays to sell pints of beer by the glass. Keep your eyes peeled for the first bottles to launch from the brewery around the same time.
Jester King Craft Brewery: The brewery is changing their license to brewpub status so they can sell beer to drink at the brewery in addition to bottles to-go. Currently normal tasting room hours are on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. Tours will be free, and guests can buy house beers by the glass (there won’t be guest beers available anymore). They will expand tasting room hours later this fall, with plans to be open several days a week.
Adelbert’s Brewing: Adelbert’s will also keep their current schedule as they consider options for additional tasting room days and will approach tours the same as before ($13 for tour, pint glass and six beer samples). Friday tours take place from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturday tours from 1 to 4 p.m.
South Austin Brewing: South Austin broke ground on an expansion this week, so within a few months, they’ll have a full bar area with up to 10 taps available to sell house beers by the glass. While they only have two staple brews out on the market, they recently starting brewing small batch experiments to fill up the remaining taps. In the meantime, they will continue to be open for their weekly Groovy Sunday events from 3 to 6 p.m. where for $10 you can buy a pint glass with several samples of beer.
(512) Brewing: (512) Brewing are working on ideas for building a taproom at their current facility, but in the meantime they will sell pints and flights of beer during their regular tour hours, Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Rogness Brewing: Rogness will add a weekly happy hour where people buy beer by the glass from 4 to 7 p.m. every Friday (RSVP encouraged). Weekly tours will continue every Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., but they will be free going forward, with beer for sale by the glass.
Independence Brewing: Independence brewing will continue to host their First Saturday tasting and tour day the same way they have done so for the past 9 years, with a free tasting and tour and the option to purchase a pint glass to receive three beer samples. They will also open their tasting room on Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m. starting this July, where people can buy beer by the pint.
Twisted X Brewing Co.: The brewery is continuing work on the new Dripping Springs facility that will span nearly 10,000 square feet. This should open around September. They plan on hosting private events in addition to having a 2,000 square foot tasting and tap room where beer will be served by the glass. Tours will be offered 4 to 5 days a week. No plans to change their license to brewpub. They will begin to produce specialty beers to be sold on-site only, in addition to their Tex-Mex Cola (non-alcoholic all natural Mexican style cola).
Infamous Brewing: Examining a planto transfer to a brewpub license, though onsite sales will begin shortly for private tours. Inaugural public brewery tour will be in August where beer can be purchased on premise, with several small batch beers that will only be available for purchase at the brewery. Plans are coming together to launch a third staple beer in the near future.