Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) visits Austin Beerworks to sign House Bill 1545 allowing Beer-to-Go sales. Photo courtesy of Office of the Governor.

I had the pleasure of living in Austin for five years, and while I enjoyed my time in Texas, I quickly came to realize that there were a number of areas where the Lone Star State did not measure up to its reputation as a bastion of conservatism.

Alcohol policy was one key area suffering from government overregulation. Liquor stores have long been banned from selling their wares on Sundays, and even beer is restricted on Sunday mornings.

Then there was the bizarre prohibition on breweries being able to sell their beer to go, directly to customers. Texas was the only state in the entire country that prohibited such sales, a thorn in the side of the state’s blooming craft beer industry. The breweries had been allowed to operate tap rooms and sell beer to customers to drink on the premises, but were barred from selling any beer directly to the customers to take home.

The restriction was the byproduct of the state’s blue laws targeting vices like drinking, and lobbyists for beer distributors and other groups that benefitted from breweries being unable to sell their own products directly. Efforts had been organized multiple times over past years — slowed by Texas’ legislative schedule that meets only every other year — but had stalled out until this past session.

A bill allowing Texas breweries to join the other 49 states and have the freedom to sell their own product finally worked its way through the various committees in the House and Senate, and successfully passed both chambers. Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) had voiced his support for the bill and scheduled a signing ceremony at Austin Beerworks, one of the local Austin breweries whose owners had been active in lobbying in support of the bill, along with other members of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild.

Abbott posted a video on his Twitter account afterwards from the Austin Beerworks brewery floor, noting that “craft brewing is big business in Texas,” but the law had previously banned breweries from selling beer-to-go.

“That is not freedom,” said Abbott, announcing that he had just signed the law to fix the situation. “Enjoy responsibly!”

The new law takes affect September 1.

Austin Beerworks celebrated the new law with several tweets of their own.

Cheers, Texas.

Now if ABW could just start distributing here in Tallahassee, that would be great. 

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Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.