Brewers hopes for less regulation go flat with Governors Veto

WICHITA FALLS, TX - Craft breweries in Texas feel a new "beer law" is leaving a bad taste in their mouth and could end up hurting their small business ambitions.

Sidecar brewing in Wichita Falls says they estimate producing anywhere between 900 to 1,000 barrels this year. As far as craft breweries go Sidecar considers itself a small-scale brewery.

"The big difference is between us and the large breweries is we're able to self-distribute. I don't have to go through a retailer to sell my beer I can sell direct. It Really helps our bottom line it cuts out the middle man and allows us to make a greater profit off our product," said Daniel Anderson with Sidecar Brewing.

House Bill 3287 was signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and will mandate that breweries can only self-distribute a total of 40,000 barrels across all locations; anything above that must be sold through a distributor.

The new law also stipulates that breweries making 225,000 barrels of beer per year cannot operate a tasting room.

Sidecar Brewing officials said while they will not be directly impacted by the new law they are disappointed to see efforts to keep the Texas brewing industry more of a free market fall flat.

"If we wanted to move into Dallas we would sign a distributor down in Dallas and they would already have the established channels to push our product. There really is a symbiotic relationship between the breweries and beer distributors. But, I don't believe it's the government's job to regulate that symbiotic relationship," said Anderson.

Sidecar Brewing customer Jeff Hodgson enjoys a beer just as much as any other Texan but is against the new law and the role of the Texas government's interference with small business.

"You know this isn't Anheuser-Busch we're talking about, this isn't Miller or Coors. We're talking about local guys seeking to, you know, to be a part of the community and support local families and further regulation of what they are doing doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense," said Hodgson.

According to the Texans For Public Justice, multiple lobbyists representing beer distributors poured $11 million to state lawmakers since 2013, including roughly $2 million to Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Joe Straus.

"We can sit here and we can scream as loud as we want that that's not fair but at the end of the day it's generally who's writing the checks that win," said Anderson.

"If it's a money driven thing as opposed to what's really serving the communities I think we might need to have a second look," said Hodgson.

Texas is the only state that doesn't allow breweries to sell beer for customers to drink off site.

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