Sometimes when you review the news about beer and law you are struck with how simple some of the obstacles to success are. Usually we focus on the multiple layers of taxation or the rules on where you can have a beer - my favorite repeal being the one in Nova Scotia until the 1980s that forbid you from having a beer on your front porch or lawn. But this lobbying effort in Texas set of 2007 seems so obviously reasonable that you wonder why it even has to be made:
Texas' five microbreweries have teamed up to lobby the Legislature next year to make their beer more available to the consumer and ensure the survival of their businesses. They want the same privilege that lawmakers gave to Texas wineries in 2005: selling directly to consumers where the beverage is made. If they get their wish, the breweries would be able to sell up to 5,000 barrels of their lagers and ales a year, such as at the end of tours or keg sales from their docks. "It would be so great at the end of a brewery tour to sell them a six-pack," said St. Arnold Brewing Co. founder Brock Wagner. The Saturday tours of St. Arnold's Houston brewery routinely draw 100 to 200 people.The problem all brewers face is the need for customers and one of the best things a craft brewer can have to make contact with those customers is a retail outlet that lets the customer meet the beer and the people who make it. A few years ago I was privileged enough once to get a surprise personal tour with one of the brewers at Shipyard in Portland, Maine when, while picking up a six at their retail store, my pal asked about how they made the stuff that I liked so much. In reply we heard: "well, I'm the brewer so let me show you". We were up the ladders to look in the big open square vats and had a Laverne and Shirley moment in the bottling line room. They did not get just the sale of whatever I bought that day but, by being fulsome, got a fan for life. Similarly, when I lived in Halifax, the shop at Garrison Brewing was where I headed to get their beer, not the government store, as I got a chat, got the news about their brewing plans as well as the freshest beer that I could find. Which is all anyone really wants so hopefully they'll get what they want and get this law out of the way.