If you're planning a cookout for labor day, consider heading to your favorite Houston craft brewery and picking up some beer to take back home. Yes, you read that right: Starting Sunday, all breweries in Texas are permitted to sell beer to go. It's a big moment for the state's craft beverage industry, and some breweries are marking the occasion with their own celebrations.
Let's take a look at how all this happened, and what you can expect starting Sunday.
Texas was the only state left in the country that didn't allow some breweries to sell their beer for customers to take home. Those breweries, known as manufacturing breweries (like Saint Arnold Brewing Co. and 8th Wonder Brewing Co.) could only sell their suds in the taproom and for the taproom, as beverage distributors didn't want their power to weaken.
But after years of advocacy by brewers and beer lovers statewide, led by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, that seemed primed to change when the Texas Legislature convened in January for its 8th Biennial Legislative Session. First, state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) and state Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) authored House and Senate bills, respectively, aimed at changing the law. Then, the Guild and the largest distributor lobby—the Beer Alliance of Texas—struck an agreement allowing for to-go beer sales, but with conditions.
Next, when it seemed the bill was having trouble in the House, Rodriguez proposed to turn it into a measure tacked onto the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's Sunset Review bill. At the eleventh hour, the Lege restored it, and then passed the TABC's sunset bill with all the trimmings. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law in June, and it goes into effect Sunday.
What It Means
You can walk into, say, Holler Brewing Co. on Sunday and pick up some cans to take home. But not too many! The law states you can purchase up to 288 ounces (or 24 cans, or one case) of beer per day for take-home consumption. That also equals nine 32-ounce crowlers. Still, that's a decent haul.
Sunday is now a holiday for Texas beer lovers. The Craft Pac (the action group of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild) is calling it Beer To-Go Day, and local breweries are joining in on the fun. Events include:
- Holler Brewing Co. Extravacanza: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
- True Anomaly Brewing: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
- Saint Arnold Brewing Co.: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. with 25th Anniversary Grand Cru, Art Car IPA, Bishop's Barrel No. 24, Lawnmower, Oktoberfest
- Southern Star Brewing Co., Conroe: Noon-8 p.m.
- Also, this weekend is the 10th annual Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival in Galveston. The Nach-Yo Ordinary Tequila Tasting is at 7 p.m. Friday; the Grand Tasting is set for 3 p.m. Saturday; and the Brew-B-Que is 11:30 a.m. Sunday, all at Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center. Tickets are $25-$85.