The TABC announced on Wednesday that they were going back on another press release that they put out the Friday before. That release was simply allowing brewpubs and breweries, who sold beer to go, to rezone their patios and allow people to drink their to-go beer on the patios.
It was, what seemed like, a simple gesture to give some breathing room to the already struggling brewery industry. Over the last 5 days that this rule was allowed, numerous breweries opened their patios back up to people to have a simple new revenue stream for an already struggling business.
It took 5 days for them to come back and say no to this. Only 5 days. Numerous breweries opened their doors again on Wednesday, the same day that the TABC came back and said they could not. But, the newest release from the TABC claims that this was never intended for breweries that sell more than 51% alcohol.
Then the question becomes why did they even put out a press release on Friday saying that brewpubs and manufacturing facilities (aka breweries) could use this option if it was only for 51% food establishments? The places that are already at 51% food can already be open, why would you need another press release about this?
This just adds to the further confusion that the TABC has caused many people in the beer industry over the past 6 months. At this point, it seems like the TABC is actively hoping that the breweries fail.
The rules seem nonsensical, archaic, or just straight confusing.
Another example of their nonsensical rulings was that Saint Arnold (Houston) has a very large restaurant at their brewery. They have managed to get their place up to 51% food sales on-site and were able to open up their brewery to allow people to eat at their restaurant and patio. This only lasted for a short period of time before the TABC came in and said they could not do this….because St. Arnold distributes beer to retailers. And all of those sales should count towards their on-site sales as well. It makes zero sense. How can they look at that place and say it is any different than any other restaurant in Texas that is allowed to be open?
Most breweries in Texas cannot open at this point in time due to these random rules that the TABC is coming up with. A lot have no food service, so they can never open as 51% food. To add more pain to all of this, many breweries end up putting out very confusing notices that they are opening, and then closing, changing by the day. No consumers really know if they can have a beer at a brewery or not. Some breweries can operate, while others end up closing the day that they thought they could open back up.
Breweries, throughout this whole pandemic, have been barely getting by. Any relief that they can get could save thousands of jobs at this point. Besides staying at home, being outdoors is one of the few safer activities that we can be doing right now. The state has no issue with indoor restaurants being open, which has basically turned them into defacto bars for people who want to go out and drink. Opening up patios for breweries seems like a logical step for allowing some relief in a safe manner. Which is what many people had thought the TABC had now logically allowed.
Simple rulings to allow all places of business to open up their patios seem logical. This can be done in a safe manner if you have it where everyone has to have a table or a seat to be there. No standing around, no large full decks of people, just some tables and seats to allow people to be outdoors. Breweries had been doing this in a safe manner, only to be shut down once again.
Until there are some actual logical rulings from the state, or even the TABC, over this, please support your local breweries. Get beer to go. The Texas Craft Brewers Guild has already stated the danger that the industry is in. If these rules do not change in the next couple of months, we risk losing over 2/3rds of the breweries in the state.
Let the Governor know what you think, and #SaveTexasBreweries