Texas Small Brewer Wins Partial Victory Against State Alcoholic Beverage Commission

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In a decision handed down earlier this week by the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, several provisions of Texas alcohol law have been found to violate the First Amendment of the Constitution.   The court found in favor of Jester King Craft Brewery, one of several parties that filed suit in federal court against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), invalidating provisions that do not allow: 1) accurate labeling of a brewery’s products (requiring the use of the terms “beer” and “ale” in a manner inconsistent with general industry use); 2) the ability to inform customers of where they can purchase the brewery’s products; and 3) the ability to state alcohol content or the use of terms indicative of strength on labels or in advertising.
The provisions challenged in the suit, but left in place following the ruling, include the prohibition on production brewers selling their beer directly to consumers on the brewery premise and the requirement that out of state breweries obtain a separate license in order to sell their products in Texas.
In Jester King’s reaction to the ruling posted on their blog, the brewery left the door open to potential future action, stating “…small brewers still face many unjust and unnecessary obstacles that need to be removed before we can stand on equal footing with Texas winemakers and brewers in other states.”  Early indications are that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will not appeal this week’s ruling.