Why you should support local breweries

Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn’t drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, it is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.
~Jack Handey

This weekend, some friends and I went to hang out at a brand-new local brewery, one of many that’s popped up in the state of Texas. We paid six bucks and got a glass and tickets for two glasses of beer each. A quartet of guys was playing music, and people hung out and the beer was good.

There are, however, a few things one might find fishy at Texas breweries.

For one, no one went home with six-packs. And no one asked where the beer could be purchased.

You can’t do either in Texas. Well, you could do the latter, but it wouldn’t get you anywhere. In Texas, only brewpubs can sell beer to consumers. Brewpubs can’t distribute via retailers, though. Breweries have it the opposite. They can’t sell to consumers, but they can distribute via retailers. We didn’t buy beer on Saturday night. We paid to enter the brewery, and thus we recieved complementary beer samples. Had we asked “Where can we buy your beer?” the answer would have been “We legally can’t tell you.”

Let’s go to a different place. A local Texas winery. I sample the wines, find one I enjoy, and the employee behind the counter offers to sell me a bottle. I buy it, and ask where else I can buy the wine. She directs me to both the local grocery store and the local beer/wine/liquor place.

Isn’t that how things should go for both breweries and wineries?

Not in Texas, and I’m sure it’s not the only state with draconian alcohol laws. There was a recent push to try to change them, but it failed, largely due to the effort of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the beer giant that brings you Budweiser. Their official stance is that they were against the change in laws because it discriminated against them (the law only applied to breweries selling under a certain amount). Really, we all know it’s because they’re afraid of craft/microbrewed beer, which is growing at quite the clip.

I could understand AB InBev’s sentiment a little more if it weren’t for the fact that they seem to only push one type of beer on the American public: American lager. AB InBev owns Spaten. Coors owns Blue Moon and Killian’s. None of these beer giants advertises these brands, at least not in Texas, where every single beer ad, period, is for the pisswater crap I was raised to think of as “beer.”

Local breweries brew and support a diverse number of beer styles. I don’t like India pale ales, but my friends do. They don’t like imperial stouts. I do. (None of us like American lagers.) Craft brewers play nice with one another…especially in Texas where the beer laws may yet force craft brewers to band together even more strongly than their kin in states like Colorado and Oregon.

And that’s on top of the standard benefits of supporting local businesses…they employ local people, keep money in the community, and generally offer (MUCH) better products with better service. And I can see how the local joint brews their beer. I saw their equipment. All of it. I even pissed in their toilet. If that’s not transparency, I don’t know what is.

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