The Texas Beer Law Blues

It's time to change these pointless restrictions.

I'm sorry if I'm starting to sound like a cracked record, but I have to bang on about this some more.

Last Monday I flew back from California to Austin. From a pleasant and balmy 70° to a temperature of 101° at 7pm, and from a place where breweries can sell their own beer to one where That Kind of Thing is simply not allowed. And this morning I read this piece about the resurgence of beer in the UK, which is something you'd hardly think is necessary in a country with such a long brewing tradition, but you'll understand more if you read it. One of the beers mentioned at the bottom is Dalston Black IPA. This piqued my interest because Dalston is a part of London I know very well, and one of the last places I'd expect to have a beer named after it (as are Bethnal Green and Hackney). A little digging around on the interwebz turned up the brewery's website, and a little more research revealed that it's actually situated at the back of a magnificent pub which is now the brewery tap, as well as a hotel that I'd very much like to include on the itinerary of my next trip back to Blighty.

A brewery tap. Doesn't that sound good? They're taken for granted in most places. There was a time when a brewery, once it expanded and built its new and improved facility, would have added a pub somewhere on the premises as a matter of course. In fact it was at a brewery tap that I had my first pint of beer. During my trip to California, I visited the taprooms and bars of seven breweries, as well as a number of brewpubs whose beers I was able to go out and buy in any beer store that wanted to stock them. You can do neither of those two things in Texas because of our state laws, and plenty of people are pushing for change.

Scott Metzger of Freetail Brewing, whom I mentioned a few weeks ago, has been at it again on Twitter, and he's not the only local beer luminary getting very hot under the collar about the chains they have to wear. I'm not at liberty right now to name names (or name my source) but trust me, the tide is starting to swell, and organisations such as Open the Taps are going to be a big part of it.

The TABC are frequently portrayed as the villains but I don't hold them culpable in this mess. The TABC, for all their faults, are the cops, not the lawmakers. Believe me, I've had my day ruined on more than one occasion by their last minute mind-changing, and it's been my experience that if you ask three TABC officers a question you'll get five different answers, but they're not the ones to blame here. The people we need to focus our collective Winnie-the-Pooh hard stare on are the elected officials, the lobbyists and the people who pay the lobbyists. I can't get too strident or contentious here but if you were following the progress a few years ago of House Bills 602 and 660, you'll know who I'm talking about.

In other, more uplifting news, Celis beers are coming back to Texas! After acquiring the Celis brands and brewery, Miller closed it down in 2002 and sold both to the Michigan Brewing Company who have themselves recently been foreclosed on (they were also contracted to brew Kid Rock's Bad Ass Beer. Oh, the irony!). Christine Celis, daughter of Pierre, has announced that with the re-acquisition of the rights to use the family name, a new Celis brewery in Austin will start producing beers brewed to her father's original recipes later this year. Deep joy.

And if you want to take some Real Ale beers with you when you go tubing next year, you won't have any worries about not being able to because they're about to start canning several of their beers, beginning with Fireman's 4.