- Emma Janzen American-Statesman Staff
Several craft beer laws signed by Gov. Rick Perry last month are largely beneficial for both breweries and brewpubs and mark a big step forward for Texas as a beer-producing state. In addition to increasing revenue for each business and creating more opportunities, the laws also will change what you can drink and where — mostly for the better.
Senate Bill 515 allows brewpubs to sell their beer to distributors and retailers. Before, brewpubs could sell their house beers only directly to customers (to be sipped at the pub, or carried home in a growler to drink later).
Now brewpubs can sell their beer in kegs and cans to distributors, so they can wind up on the shelves of grocery stores and on tap at bars. Here’s a breakdown of what local brewpubs have planned, in light of their new rights.
Uncle Billy’s: Plans to expand production capacity so they can distribute beer in 16 oz. cans.
Black Star Co-Op: Will also can their beer for distribution, and they plan to build a second location that’s also licensed as a brewpub to make more room for production.
The Draught House: They don’t have the capacity to offer off-site sales but plan to offer beers from their brewpub “brothers and sisters.”
Pinthouse Pizza: No immediate plans to distribute outside of the pub, but hope to begin selling kegs directly to customers from the pub later this summer, thanks to a recent expansion in fermentation capacity.
North by Northwest: Also working on expanding their production space and searching for a new space for a full packaging plant so they will be able to can and keg more beer as well.
Flix Brewhouse: No current plans to expand, but would like to explore selling kegs to local drinking establishments.
The other bill that’s going to change everything for craft brewers is SB 518, which allows local craft breweries to sell their beer for on-premise consumption (you can drink the beer only at the brewery itself).
Before the law was passed, during weekend tours, breweries were allowed only to give their beer away, so they would charge a standard fee for a pint glass to be filled with samples. Some will stick to tradition, but in many cases, brewers will begin selling their beer and making some money.
The majority of breweries will expand their tap room hours, so people can visit more often to buy beer straight from the source. Others are working on plans to build taprooms and bar areas to accommodate on-site sales.
A handful are in the process of converting their licenses to brewpubs, so they can sell their beer for both on and off-premise consumption, as well as continue to distribute their beers to local grocery stores and bars. Hops & Grain, Infamous Brewing Co. and Jester King will all take this approach. Changing a license to brewpub doesn’t mean the business must serve food, and all three breweries will opt to not do this.
Here are more specific plans from each local beer company:
Austin Beerworks: Plans to develop a new bar area, hire serving staff, and develop a pricing structure to sell beer by the glass. The brewers are looking forward to being able to offer seasonals, one-offs, test batches and other experiments that will be available only at the brewery.
Real Ale: The brewery is still developing long-term plans, but will likely move the tasting room to a larger space and sell beer on site when that happens. Right now, the Friday tour day continues from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (tours at 3 and 4 p.m.), with free samples of beer until they determine a pricing structure.
Live Oak Brewing: Tours will continue to take place on scheduled Saturdays at 5 p.m. Tours are free, but the owners say they might start charging. They plan to move to a new, larger location where they will have the capacity to sell beer on site.
Circle Brewing Co.: Plans to launch a weekly happy hour are in the works, to sell beer for on-site consumption.
Hops & Grain Brewing: Owner Josh Hare applied for a brewpub license earlier this spring in anticipation of the laws changing. Starting in July, they will have expanded tap room hours, from 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Beer is already being sold by the pint for on-premise consumption from 2 to 6 p.m. Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
Thirsty Planet: Saturday tours will stay at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. until expansion plans are complete. After that (in a few months), they will expand their tasting room hours likely to Thursdays and Fridays to sell pints of beer by the glass. The first bottles are expected to launch from the brewery around the same time.
Jester King Craft Brewery: Current tasting room hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Tours will be free, and guests can buy house beers by the glass (there won’t be guest beers available anymore). They will expand tasting room hours later this fall, with plans to be open several days a week.
Adelbert’s Brewing: Adelbert’s also will keep its current schedule as options for additional tasting room days are considered and tours will stay the same ($13 for tour, pint glass and six beer samples). Tours are from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.
South Austin Brewing: South Austin broke ground on expansion last week, so within a few months, they’ll have a full bar area with up to 10 taps available to sell house beers by the glass. While they have only two staple brews out on the market, they recently starting brewing small-batch experiments to fill the remaining taps. In the meantime, they will continue to be open for their weekly Groovy Sunday events from 3 to 6 p.m., when for $10 you can buy a pint glass with several samples of beer.
(512) Brewing: Working on ideas for building a taproom at their current space, but in the meantime they will sell pints and flights of beer during their regular tour hours, at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.
Rogness Brewing: Rogness will add a weekly happy hour where people buy beer by the glass from 4 to 7 p.m. every Friday (RSVP encouraged). Weekly tours will continue from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, but they will be free going forward, with beer for sale by the glass.
Independence Brewing: They plan to continue to host a first Saturday tasting and tour day as they have for the past nine years, with a free tasting and tour and the option to purchase a pint glass to receive three beer samples. They will also open their tasting room from 4 to 8 p.m. every Saturday starting this month, where people can buy beer by the pint.
Twisted X Brewing Co.: The brewery is continuing work on a new Dripping Springs facility that will be nearly 10,000 square feet. This should open around September. They plan to host private events in addition to having a 2,000-square-foot tasting and tap room where beer will be served by the glass. Tours will be offered four or five days a week. No plans to change their license to brewpub. They will begin to produce specialty beers to be sold on-site only, in addition to their Tex-Mex Cola (non-alcoholic all natural Mexican-style cola).
Infamous Brewing: Examining a plan to transfer to a brewpub license, though on-site sales will begin shortly for private tours. Inaugural public brewery tour will be in August, when beer can be purchased on site, with several small batch beers that will be available for purchase only at the brewery. Plans are coming together to launch a third staple beer in the near future.