Guild Update: Texas

Support and development of State Brewers Guilds remains a major focus of the Brewers Association. Acacia Coast, the trade group’s State Brewers Association Coordinator, continues to help the BA become more of a resource for existing and fledgling guilds. Acacia has been busy crisscrossing the country attending state brewers association meetings with many of them centered on initial guild formation.

Recently, Acacia provided and update on her trip to Texas.

The Texas Craft Brewers Guild (TCBG) hosted their 2013 annual meeting in Garland, just outside of Dallas, in early February. Brewery representatives drove from all across the Lone Star State to meet in the newly opened Lakewood Brewing Co. Texas is the second most populous and second-largest of the 50 states, and is home to the fourth and fifth largest United States metropolitan areas. Texas was, however, ranked 45th in 2011 in breweries per capita. The state is primed for its craft beer boom and the guild members gathered to discuss how they intend to bring this immense potential to fruition.

The TCBG meeting began with a panel of brewers (with 150 years of combined brewing experience) in an open forum Q&A session. With attendance accessible to both enthusiast and voting brewery members, the panel offered an excellent opportunity to ask questions about wide ranging topics including brewery safety, managing keg cooperage and brewing processes.

With over 32 brewpubs, at least 33 micros and more than 94 breweries in planning, the TCBG agreed there were too many breweries, and too many important initiatives to be managed solely by a volunteer board of directors. In the fall of 2012, the board made the critical decision to hire an Executive Director, Charles Vallhonrat, who is now representing the TCBG full time. Charles led the meeting along with the current guild President, Tim Schwartz, of Real Ale Brewing Co.

I provided a brief Brewers Association update, with a summary of the resources we have available for brewers guilds, details on future BA events and the progress report for Federal initiatives the BA continues to advance. I was able to answer questions on the new site, the upcoming historic 2013 Brewers Association Capitol Hill Climb and the guild seminars we’re offering at the Craft Brewers Conference.

In the membership report, TCBG Secretary and Treasurer, Vickie Jones reported excellent progress. Voting membership has nearly doubled in the last year, enthusiast membership has almost tripled and there are 5 times as many allied trade members!

Brian Peters, with brewpub-in-planning Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co, provided an update on the 2nd Annual Texas Craft Brewers Guild Festival. Held in October in Austin, 4,500 attendees came out to support the largest collection of Texas breweries in one place. In addition to the Texas-brewed lagers and ales, the festival also offered live music, local food vendors, beer education sessions, and food and beer pairing events. The festival was a great success, held in partnership with the nonprofit Young Men’s Business League (YMBL), and as a testament to the philanthropic nature of the Texas brewing community, the guild donated a large portion of profits to the YMBL’s Austin Sunshine Camps.

Tim Schwartz provided an Education update, asking members for their input on what educational/ technical seminars they’d like to participate in throughout 2013. The TCBG will be hosting sensory analysis seminars in the three prominent Texas metropolis areas, as well as continuing to offer the “Brewers Nights” gatherings and other learning opportunities throughout the state.

The TCBG is continuing work on their on-line presence with media firm Wasabi Creative rolling out electronic dues payment options, an event calendar, social media guidelines and more regular updates to the website.
As part of the guild’s 2013 goals, the TCBG is working steadfastly to obtain fair access to market for the state’s craft brewers. There are currently numerous prohibitive laws in Texas that don’t exist in most states, including:

  • Brewpubs are prohibited from participating in festivals within the state, so only production brewers can pour beer at events. This unfairly leaves out a significant community of craft breweries from sharing and promoting their locally produced brews to core craft beer enthusiasts.
  • Production brewers are not allowed to sell beer for on premise consumption. Breweries can currently sell a tour, which includes samples, but by law, they must give their beer away for free if a consumer demands it. What other business is mandated to give its product away for free?!

Scott Metzger, of Freetail Brewing Co, and Brock Wagner, of Saint Arnold Brewing Co, provided a very entertaining update on the legislative affairs of the guild. As an indication of how challenging the laws are in Texas, Scott opened with the suggestion that everyone should plan for $10,000 per year for legislative affairs in perpetuity for the life of their breweries. Brock emphasized an absolutely critical component of moving legislation forward: “We need to have a singular focus. We cannot have dissent.”

They shared these valuable insights to prepare the group for the introduction of the bi-partisan legislation the guild assembled to modernize the state’s alcohol regulatory system. The TCBG has been directly involved with the Senate in crafting four bills and are in full support of this legislation to make Texas’s small, craft brewers more competitive. Learn more about the bills on the TCBG Government Affairs page. Should these bills pass, they would allow the small craft breweries of Texas to grow and thrive in an open and competitive market place, resulting in increased job creation, capital investment and tax revenues. For an analysis on the potential economic impact of this package of legislation, visit the TCBG’s Economic Impact Study page. 

“The Texas Craft Brewers Guild exists for the purpose of promoting craft beer in the State of Texas, educating the public about the qualities and attributes of craft beer and advancing the common interest of Texas craft brewers.” A strong mission statement clearly exemplified in the guild initiatives and the immense progress the TCBG continues to make on all levels of the Texas craft brewing industry.

Photo © Charles Vallhonrat