“Beer To You” Bills in Texas Legislature Would Legalize Home Beer Delivery
The 88th regular session of the Texas legislature finishes on May 29th. Among the hundreds of bills still up for debate are HB 2003 and SB 752. Nicknamed the “Beer To You” bills, the bills were introduced by Shelby Slawson in the House and Peter Flores in the Senate. The twin pieces of legislation would legalize direct-to-consumer shipping and delivery from Texas breweries.
A Level Playing Field for Brewers
Direct-to-consumer shipping and delivery of alcohol is not a groundbreaking idea. Texas law allows wineries, restaurants, liquor stores, grocery stores, and third-party delivery apps to bring alcohol to your front door. However, similar rights for craft breweries have lagged behind. Texas was the last state in the country to legalize take-home sales of beer from breweries with 2019’s “Beer To Go” law.
Beyond putting Texas craft brewers on an equal footing with other alcohol sellers, the potential economic impact of the “Beer To You” legislation would be significant. In 2005, the Texas legislature passed a similar law allowing wineries to ship directly to consumers. According to Vista Brewing co-founder Kent Killough, the passage of that law was a watershed moment for Texas vintners. “In 2001, around 20 wineries were operating in Texas. Today, over 500 wineries are operating in Texas with an economic impact of over $20 billion. In 2022, over 88% of revenue from small to medium-sized wineries in Texas came from direct-to-consumer sales.”
Mail Clubs and Memberships: How “Beer To You” Would effect Central Texas Brewers
While the passage of the “Beer To You” laws is unlikely to have as huge an effect as the 2005 winery law, it would still offer significant opportunities for breweries to expand their business. A recent Brewers Association survey indicated that 92% of regular craft beer consumers nationwide would order beer shipments or deliveries from a brewery once a month or more if given the opportunity to do so. Central Texas brewers are beginning to consider how they would factor the legislation into their business model.
“Direct-to-consumer shipping and delivery would allow us to do things like add a beer mail club component to our membership club, in which we could ship new beers to consumers to try as we develop future brands for the retail market,” said Red Horn Coffee House and Brewing Company owner Jon Lamb. “We would also have the ability to send a six-pack out with that game-day taco delivery from that third-party delivery company, just as other retailers can do. This would also be a great addition to future catering delivery options for our customers, as well.”
For Kent Killough and Vista Brewing, the potential for expanding membership programs is the main appeal of the “Beer To You” legislation. When Killough and his wife Karen opened Vista Brewing in 2018, they saw their business as a peer to nearby vineyards in Driftwood. “Vista brews beers with a very tacit connection to wine (major publications have written about Vista blurring the lines between wine and beer).”
The Killoughs started a monthly membership program similar to bottle-of-the-month clubs their vintner counterparts had run for years. “Despite much interest, Vista’s Barrel Club retains around 250 members. In comparison, our wine-making neighbors have bottle clubs with 2500-5000 members. This disparity is largely caused because wineries are able to ship products directly to their members, while members of Vista’s Barrel Club must pick up products at the brewery.”
The ability to ship directly to members would be a huge boon for Vista and an interesting option for Red Horn. For taproom-centric brewers with limited canning and bottling programs, “Beer To You” would be much less significant of a change. Hopsquad taproom manager Greg Henny thinks the impact on his brewery would be minimal. “We’re a small production brewery that primarily sells out of our taproom. I don’t foresee us shipping a huge amount of beer to folks in or out of states.”
The Big Picture of “Beer To You”
Texas Craft Brewers Guild Executive Director Caroline Wallace sees “Beer To You” legislation as a significant long-term opportunity for Lone Star brewers nationally. “With Beer To You, the
Texas Legislature has an opportunity to support the growth of beer tourism in Texas as brewery visitors send products home, join beer clubs, and support their favorite small beverage producers regardless of proximity.”
According to the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, the craft brewing industry has a $4.9 billion dollar economic impact on the Texas economy and supports more than 30,000 jobs. Even with a multi-billion dollar craft brewing industry, Texas is only 47th in breweries per capita and 41st in craft beer industry economic impact per capita. “Texas is a big state,” Wallace said. “And we have a big opportunity to grow if we can continue to fix these kinds of anti-competitive, antiquated laws limiting Texas brewers’ access to market.”