Regulations for craft breweries vary all across the United States, especially when it comes to on-premise sales and distribution. Texas, for example, has been changing some of its rules to improve the situation for craft breweries in recent years, but the state is still behind the times in many ways. Well, two craft breweries have decided enough is enough and are suing the state in order to bring about some change.
The regulation that has Grapevine Craft Brewery and Deep Ellum Brewery most upset is the prohibition of on-site selling for off-premise consumption. And they should be upset. Wineries, distilleries and brewpubs can all do this in Texas, but microbreweries, for unknown reasons (or at least illogical ones) cannot. Think of all the sales slipping through their fingers as customers come in, try some beers, enjoy them … and then must leave the brewery, drive to a few stores to find a six-pack, instead of going home with some right then.
From WFAA ABC 8:
“Day one, that would be a 50 percent increase in our business. Day one,” Humble said.
In his suit, Deep Ellum’s owner John Reardon said, unlike winemakers and distillers in Texas, only breweries are prohibited from selling their own product to customers. The state law, he said, violates their constitutional rights.
Last session, in Austin, some North Texas brewers tried to kill that law and failed.
The federal suit, according to the brewers, is based on The Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, which requires that government treat similarly situated persons the same, or precludes it from treating one set of persons differently than others who are similarly situated. Basically, how can the state exclude microbreweries from the same rights it affords similar businesses?
So, why a lawsuit versus petitions and legislative rallies? Well, the Texas Guild has tried this for years, but the powerful beer distributor lobby keeps talking to state legislators and killing the bills, which the folks at Grapevine and Deep Ellum find to be an unbalanced, unfair system that is affecting their business. So, to the courts we go. For readers interested in rallying for the cause, check out the Indiegogo campaign the brewers have set up to help fund their efforts.