Wednesday, December 13, 2006

St. Arnold needs a ride to Austin

Tonight's Tex-blogosphere conference call featured Brock Wagner of the Saint Arnold Brewing Company, who asked for our help in advancing a worthy cause. Specifically, revising the TABC code to enable microbreweries like his around the state to sell beer on a retail basis from their facility.

The craft brewery industry in Texas once featured 19 different microbreweries around the state, but today only five remain in business. (Many of us in Houston can remember when there was a brewpub on every corner of Richmond Avenue in the Nineties.) The struggles can be traced in part to the arcane alcoholic beverage laws in Texas, many of which date to the Prohibition era, that restrict certain sales activity. For example, if you go to a St. Arnold's brewery tour on a Saturday afternoon, you cannot purchase a six-pack of their beer from them.

So because the industry is on a beer budget when it comes to publicity, the publishers -- and readers -- of Texas blogs from the left and the right can all agree on one thing: when it comes to pilsner, we're all in this together.

Wagner and the other brewmasters of the craft breweries in Texas -- besides St. Arnold, they include Rahr and Sons of Fort Worth, Real Ale of Blanco, Independence and Live Oak of Austin -- hope to get a legislator to carry their bill in the coming 80th session of the Texas Lege. Wagner's lawmakers at the brewery's location in northwest Houston are Rep. Jessica Farrar and Sen. John Whitmire, and he is busy soliciting their help (when he's not busy running the brewery, that is).

Visit St. Arnold Goes to Austin to stay current on this effort, or better yet drop a line to your rep and ask them if they would sponsor the legislation to change the TABC code, and while you're at it, take the St. Arnold brewery tour some Saturday afternoon and support the local economy.

Update (12/14): Kuff and Houstonist add more.

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