AP NEWS

Breweries should have option of to-go sales

February 15, 2019

Craft breweries in Texas got a long-desired boost with a tentative compromise to allow to-go sales of their product at each site. If the full House and Senate approve this proposal, Texas could join 49 other states that already made this shift. Lawmakers should ensure that this bill makes it to the governor’s desk instead of being derailed by powerful lobbyists, a fate that has happened before to craft breweries and other entities in this state.

The change is pretty straightforward, and would copy an option that is already in effect at the state’s wineries. It would allow consumers to purchase up to two cases of 12-ounce packaged cans or bottles at a production brewery, which typically sends the bulk of its product to other stores for sale.

The amount of profit from such small-scale sales wouldn’t be huge, but it would help a struggling brewery, as many of them are in the early stages. More importantly, the to-go sales would help craft brewers spread awareness of their brand: A person or couple visits a local brewery and takes home a six-pack or two. They stick it in their fridge, and maybe offer one to visitors. In turn, these people learn about the beer and maybe decide to buy a few bottles for themselves on their next visit to the grocery store.

Southeast Texas has one brewpub in operation and two more in the planning stage, and this change could encourage more entrepreneurs to join them. Brewpubs, like Neches Brewing Co. in Port Neches, already are licensed to sell some beer for off-premises consumption, usually through growlers filled at the site.

Small production breweries had been seeking this option for years but were stymied by distributors, who wanted that business for themselves. Because this compromise is so limited, they shouldn’t be affected that much.

It’s important to note that virtually no other industry in Texas, or the nation, for that matter, labors under an antiquated restriction like this. Generally speaking, if you make something in your shop or store, you can sell it to whoever walks in the front door.

Yet going back to Prohibition, the sale and production of alcohol in Texas and many other states has taken on many quirks that are absent in other forms on commerce. It’s time to modernize this process in Texas, especially for the craft breweries that have become so popular with beer drinkers.

Even previous opponents of this change like beer distributors and wholesalers saw the writing on the wall. They knew that the old rules had to change, and this compromise is the result. It’s a reasonable one, and it should become the law in Texas.