With new state legislation liberalizing beer sales at craft breweries, San Antonians now have a wealth of options for stocking the fridge, including getting it straight from their favorite brewery.
House Bill 1545 changed Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission rules to allow breweries to sell one 24-pack of beer per customer per day, or nine 32-ounce crowlers (like a growler, but in an aluminum can). The new law takes effect Sept. 1.
As the last state in the nation to allow beer-to-go sales, Texas has more than six times the number of active beer production licenses now than it did a decade ago, according to data compiled by the commercial real estate firm, JLL.
But because of the state’s past restrictive laws regulating alcohol sales, it still ranks 46th in the United States in the number of breweries per capita.
Beer-to-go will bring more producers into the market, JLL researchers predict, and increase both competition and revenues for craft breweries. “With the passing of the beer-to-go law, we wanted to highlight the state’s growing craft brewery market,” stated -Roman Rodriguez, senior research analyst at JLL. “Texas craft breweries have gained regional and national exposure and the latest legislation will provide more opportunities for the brewers of today and tomorrow.”
JLL data shows the state’s largest craft brewer in Texas is Spoetzel Brewery in Shiner, Texas. But Saint Arnold Brewing of Houston, which is known for its Fancy Lawnmower label, comes in at No. 2, having produced 66,784 barrels in 2018. Real Ale Brewing of Blanco is third.
In San Antonio, Alamo Beer is considered the largest craft brewer, turning out 5,195 barrels in 2018. Freetail Brewing comes in second at 4,680 barrels in the same year, and Southerleigh Brewing was at 3,100 barrels. Busted Sandal Brewing comes in fourth, with 1,650 barrels made.
Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling would likely fall into the top three, JLL researchers said, if its production data was publicly available.
Some brewers across the state are planning to celebrate the new law with special events and promotions. Locally, Blue Star Brewing began marking the occasion on Friday by introducing its new crowler machine, and selling limited-edition “beer-to-go day” crowlers, and will continue through Sunday.
Blue Star holds a brewpub license which already allowed it to sell beer to go, said owner Joey Villarreal. But he believes the new law will increase revenues across the industry, and more importantly, improve accessibility between producer and consumer.
“I grew up in a tortilla factory when you couldn’t buy tortillas at a grocery store,” Villarreal said. “It lends itself to a better way to do commerce when you can come in and see the people who make the product. It’s just a better way.”
“The economic impact of the beer-to-go sales for a company like ours and the local economy should be tremendous both for the breweries and for the allied trade, including Brewery Direct,” said Kevin Johnson, CEO, Johnson Bros.