BEER ME!

New bill allowing Texans to buy beer to-go from breweries on tap in legislature

Beer-to-go could be a big deal for craft breweries like Saint Arnold. Courtesy photo

This article originally appeared on CultureMap and was written by Eric Sandler.

A compromise between craft beer breweries and beer distributors should lead to a big win for Texas beer drinkers. The Texas Craft Brewers Guildand the Beer Alliance of Texas, an organization that represents beer distributors, have agreed to support proposed legislation that will allow consumers to buy beer to-go directly from breweries.

Currently, Texas law only allows consumers to buy beer at breweries for on-premise consumption, and even that's only been the case since 2013. Under the proposed legislation, currently working its way through the Texas Legislature as SB 312 and HB 672, consumers would be able to purchase up to 576 ounces (equivalent to two cases) of beer per person per day directly from a brewery. In exchange, both parties have agreed not to lobby for additional changes to the law, such as the 5,000 barrel annual limit on brewery taproom sales or the 10,000 barrel annual limit on production for brewpubs.

CultureMap contacted representatives from three Houston craft breweries — Saint Arnold Brewing Company, 8th Wonder Brewery, and Holler Brewing Co — to gauge their reaction to the proposed legislation. All parties expressed optimism about what these changes could mean for both breweries and consumers.

"f this historic piece of legislation goes through, everybody wins: brewers, distributors, retailers, beer drinkers," 8th Wonder president and co-founder Ryan Soroka tells CultureMap. "This law would create another revenue stream for breweries that could fund growth and create more jobs. Additionally, this would create another marketing opportunity for breweries to connect with and educate their visitors, which would ultimately result in a positive economic domino effect through the different tiers of the industry."

Saint Arnold CMO Lennie Ambrose shares Soroka's sentiments and even expresses support for the moratorium on future changes after this legislative session. "A brewery doesn't have to wonder what their business plan is going to be," Ambrose says. "They know going in for the next 12 years everything is going to be status quo. Hopefully, that status quo works for everybody."

Holler Brewing co-owner John Holler sees potential benefits for his Sawyer Yards business. Currently draft-only, Holler will likely add the ability to sell Crowlers (32-ounce cans) once the legislation takes effect. "This deal gives beer drinkers what they're asking for without waiting any longer for it," he writes. "I'm very excited about it and I'm proud of my fellow board members for getting us this far."

Still, he remains an outspoken critic of the three-tier system that in most cases requires distributors to serve as a middleman between producers of alcoholic beverages and consumers and retailers. Currently, only breweries that produce fewer than 10,000 barrels per year may self-distribute, and the compromise that helped bring about the bargain will maintain that cap for the foreseeable future. Holler sees the deal as an opportunity for distributors to act in their own self-interest without any further challenges to their critical role in the market.

How would the proposed legislation impact Saint Arnold and Buffalo Bayou Brewing? Continue reading on CultureMap to find out.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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