Austin City Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday in support of a Texas House bill that seeks to allow the state's manufacturing breweries to sell beer to go from their taprooms.
The Texas Craft Brewers Guild, a trade organization for brewers, worked with the council — specifically, Council Member Sabino "Pio" Renteria — on the resolution. Austin is home to more craft breweries than any other city in Texas, according to a news release from Renteria's office, which claims passing House Bill 672 "would encourage the growth of local breweries, increase manufacturing jobs, and overall encourage economic growth throughout our city."
It's the first time the council has supported a beer-to-go resolution, but it's not the first time this year that a city council in Texas has stood behind such a resolution. Lewisville chose to pass one in January in support of the city's only craft brewery, which is struggling, the brewery's owner told Community Impact earlier this month.
Once that happened, according to the article, brewers guild executive director Charles Vallhonrat said the organization would ask all of its member breweries to approach their city councils, as well. It's one of the latest steps the guild has taken to build support for HB 672 and its Senate counterpart, Senate Bill 312, authored by state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, and state Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway, respectively.
"The state has been slow to act on something constituents clearly support, so now these local governments are showing their support too," Caroline Wallace, the brewers guild's deputy director, said.
In February, distributor organization Beer Alliance of Texas, which has expressed strong opposition to brewery to-go sales, worked out a compromise with the brewers guild — the biggest sign so far that the tide might be turning for Texas breweries that have been lobbying for the change for years.
But Wallace and Vallhonrat acknowledge the bills still have a long way to go before becoming law. The bills still have to move through committee, pass both the House and Senate and make it to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk. And some opposition remains.
Another big distributor group, Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, is still against legalizing beer-to-go sales at manufacturing breweries, according to a statement made shortly after the Beer Alliance of Texas compromise. (Manufacturing breweries are considered legally different from brewpubs, which, like wineries and distilleries in Texas, can offer packaged booze for customers to take home.)
But now, craft breweries have new allies in their legislative battle.
“This important bipartisan bill will allow small local businesses the ability to grow throughout our city and state,” Renteria said in the news release. “I’m glad to support helpful, common sense legislation like this from our State Legislature and am appreciative of Rep. Rodriguez’s work pushing this forward.”
Cheers! #ATXCouncil backs a proposal to change State law to allow retail to-go sales by Texas breweries. Info: https://t.co/R5nsq4FfsJ pic.twitter.com/u2wAJ7lMy3
— Austin Texas (@austintexasgov) March 28, 2019//