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Thanks to TABC, we might start seeing ‘improved quantity, quality’ of Texas beers

Arianna Auber
Lovers of Texas beers might start seeing more beers coming from their favorite breweries thanks to quicker action from the TABC, which has to approve beer labels before they hit the market.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, beleaguered by scandal and negative press of late, nonetheless has some good news for the state’s breweries: that label approval for their beers, a necessary process before the beer can be released to the market, is happening more quickly now.

Previously, Texas brewers could be waiting for an average of 40 days to get the go-ahead from TABC on sending off new beers to consumers, but that wait time has been significantly decreased in the past month to less than six days, according to a release from the state agency.

That’s something local breweries like Austin Beerworks have indeed noticed. Austin Beerworks co-founder Michael Graham is hopeful the change continues because it will have a marked impact on the amount of beers that his and other breweries can regularly produce. 

“Long wait times for label approvals discourage new recipe development and make it very difficult to get fresh beer to market. If the quicker turnaround continues, I expect to see an improved quantity and quality of Texas-made beers in the market,” he said.

In a kind of catch-22, the previous 40 day wait time was, according to the TABC, the result of the rapid growth of the Texas beer industry since 2011, with “a 300 percent increase in the number of label approval applications at the agency contributing to a backlog.”

But Graham credits TABC employees like Thomas Graham, who serves as TABC’s director of marketing practices, and Amanda Brothers with improving the process and recognizing the importance of timing in getting fresh and seasonal brews to store shelves.

Under Texas law, alcoholic beverages sold in the state must have their container labels given a thumbs-up by the TABC beforehand. Breweries constantly release new wares — like Austin Beerworks’ just-debuted Heavy Machinery Half IPA, full of hop flavor and aroma but a lot less of the hop bitterness that used to be customary with American IPAs — and used to worry the approval wouldn’t come in time.

The TABC could use the good news. The agency has been in hot water a lot lately, none of it for positive reasons. After getting busted for many of its employees partying on taxpayers’ tabs, TABC underwent an extensive overhaul, with many high-level resignations and an Army veteran just tapped to take over the executive director job.