It has come to my attention that many of the Craft Beer Bars in Houston, including The Petrol Station, Flying Saucer, Hay Merchant, and Mongoose versus Cobra are removing some wonderful craft beers from their menus… for the time being.
These local establishments are now boycotting the distributor Silver Eagle (“The Budweiser Distributor”). This means that Craft Beers like Saint Arnold, Karbach, Sierra, Firestone, and 8th wonder will not be available (see post by The Petrol Station).
Originally, my family was so happy when Saint Arnold started contracting with Silver Eagle for distribution. It meant we could purchase or favorite Houston Craft Beer at the local grocery store…they were going there to drop of Budweiser anyway, now Saint Arnold was on the truck too! This eliminated our 30-60 min trip to a liquor store closer to Houston proper for our craft beer.
According to The Petrol Station, ABI (Budweiser) raised their keg deposits to Silver Eagle to $70 because kegs shells were going missing from large accounts (stadiums, kegs sold to individuals from retailers). So in the last 5 years, Silver Eagle has raised their keg deposits from $25 to $60 ($70 by September). Now small Craft Beer businesses are bearing the weight of mistakes made by the Macro Businesses. Hence the boycott.
It is about more than just beer drinkers wanting beer. Replace “beer” with any other commodity (like coffee? Or widgets?).
It’s about Big Businesses dominating the marketplace and crippling small businesses.
The Beer industry in Texas is already a complex legislative issue. Owning a Microbrewery, Craft Brewery, or BrewPub is a lot more of a challenge here than other states… possibly any other state!
Here is an incredibly interesting read from the State’s Comptroller’s Office.
Know the facts and become and Advocate for Craft Beer in Texas!
For decades in Texas, by law, a business could only be a brewer, distributor, or retailer of beer (1 of 3 tiers). What does this mean? If you are AT A CRAFT BREWERY, you cannot buy any beer to take home. The beer must go to a distributor, then a retailer, then your home.
Legislation to change this is constantly blocked in Texas courts by, guess who, lobbyists for beverage giants like Budweiser.
There have been recent changes to let “BrewPubs” (hybrid retail drinking/dining business like FreeTail Brewing) self-distribute. This means they can sell 10,000 barrels per year directly to a retailer without using a distributor (like Silver Eagle).
However, they must sell their beer to distributors and buy it back to sell it at remote, unlicensed locations, such as fairs and other public events.
Craft Breweries without “pubs” (aka Production or packaging breweries) can now sell up to 5,000 barrels a year directly to consumers, but for on-premises consumption. Sorry folks, no growlers to take home.
There are businesses, like Whole Foods or The Petrol Station, that will fill a growler of Craft Beer for you. As long as a distributor brings it to them.
Did you know neither brewpubs nor production breweries in Texas can sell their distribution rights. Texas is the ONLY state with this restriction in law.
And a Bill has been introduced to DECREASE the amount of Beer a microbrewery (defined as a brewery that does not exceed 125,000 barrels) could self-distribute from 40,000 barrels to 5,000 barrels.
For the Brewery that sells 18,000 barrels a year, this will hurt. For reference, Budweiser sells about 16 million a year. Side Note: Anheuser-Busch used to sell 50 million a year (back in 1998).
There is this convoluted, archaic, 3 tier system in Texas that needs to adjust to the current market landscape. A place where mainstream beers and craft beers can be served side by side in peace. *Sigh* Don’t they realize there are enough beer drinkers to go around?
Before Prohibition, every small town had their own local brewery, usually next door to the town bakery (since they used virtually the same ingredients). Beers had regional differences in taste. The Craft Beer Industry is trying to keep the uniqueness and diversity alive.
I don’t just “like beer” or “drink beer.”
I’m an enthusiast.
I’m an advocate.
I’m concerned for the wellbeing of the microbrewery, craft breweries, and independent retailers that keep the Industry unique. Small businesses provide differentiation and competition in the marketplace. Competition is good. And there is more to [beer] life than Bud Lite.
The historical significance of beer is quite fascinating. If you are looking for an interesting documentary, I highly recommend How Beer Saved The World
. It’s on Netflix, it’s not too long, and it’s educational… so add it to your queue today! The oldest written recipe: Beer. Louis Pasteur developed the pasteurization process for…. Beer! (you thought it was milk didn’t you?). Why did the Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock? They ran out of beer (100% true). So, essentially the World as we know it would be completely different if it weren’t for Beer!
Do you have a Craft Beer you think I should try? I particularly like Reds and Browns (more malty, less hoppy)...