Guide to Imbibe
A breakdown of how new beer laws affect local breweries
It's been a stellar Legislative session for the beer industry in Texas; after years of hard work by customers and businesses, five laws passed directly affecting brewpubs and breweries.
Senate Bill 515 allows brewpubs to use a distributor to put their product on shelves around town, and Senate Bill 518 allows breweries producing under 225,000 barrels to sell product for on-premise consumption, like a bar. That means you can enjoy a pint at the brewery, but can’t buy a growler or 6-pack for at-home consumption.
We contacted breweries around Austin to ask how the new law will affect their tours, tasting rooms and how you buy their beers. Here's a round-up of the changes:
Jester King Brewery
Starting Saturday, June 29, Jester King is taking full advantage of the new legislation by offering beer for purchase to enjoy at the brewery. They are changing their system from paid tours with free samples to free tours with many more options to buy beer onsite. Tours run on Saturdays starting at 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Groups of 15 or less do not need reservations, but larger groups are encouraged to email events@jesterkingbrewery and give advanced notice.
They have also begun the process for securing a brewpub license and giving up their brewery license. This will enable them to sell their product through all avenues: distribution, on-premise consumption, and bottles or growlers of beer to-go directly from the facility. They will expand their tasting room hours sometime this fall. For more information about their changes and plans, as well as a look at their new menu, visit their blog.
Hops and Grain Brewery
In preparation for potential legislation, Hops and Grain applied for their brewpub license in April and are waiting for final approval. Like Jester King, this will allow them to sell beer through distribution, onsite consumption and growlers and bottles to go.
In the meantime they will be expanding taproom hours starting Friday, July 5 to include Thursday and Friday from 2 to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Tours will still be offered Saturdays at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Until July 5, they will maintain current hours of Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Most importantly and effective immediately, beer is available to purchase for onsite consumption.
South Austin Brewing Company
Hedging their bets on the new legislation, South Austin Brewing Company has been paying rent since November on a 6700 square foot space directly next to the brewery. Now that the law is final, they are taking down the adjoining wall and building it into an events center, complete with a stage for live music. To give you a visual, that is approximately the size of La Zona Rosa. Look for it to open end of summer.
Tours will remain the same and are they offering pints for onsite consumption during those hours: Monday through Friday from 1 to 6 p.m.. They do not usually offer tours on Saturday, but do have concerts almost every Sunday in the brewery. “We will continue those Sunday concerts and will just move them next door to the new event space,” says Jordan Weeks from the brewery. “Check our website for details.”
They are still deciding how the brewery hours and offerings might change, but will maintain their Saturday tours. You can sign up online for one of two options at 11:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. The tour is free and you receive three samples of their current beers. They are hoping the changes will enable them to continue growing. “We have been open three years. Every year we have doubled in size and hope to do it again this year,” says Mike Haiges, one of the four employees working full-time at the brewery.
Unrelated to the current legislation, but exciting news: they are setting up a bottling line in the July and we can expect to see product on the shelves in two to three months.
They are planning to keep their current tour structure, then add Monday through Friday happy hour tastings starting in mid-July. Tours run approximately every 45 minutes on Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. Visitors have the option to purchase two different sized glasses: a 5-ounce for $10 or a 13-ounce for $13. Purchase of the glass includes the tour, 6 half-pours and the glass itself. They will begin offering full pours for onsite consumption during their new Monday through Friday happy hours and are finalizing details for the kickoff date. You can keep up to date with their changes by following Adelbert’s Brewery on Facebook.
Live Oak Brewery
Current facilities are too small to offer an onsite pub, but Teresa Ueltschey from the brewery says they are expanding soon. “There is no physical space for tasting right now, but in the new brewery we plan to have a tasting room and space to enjoy pints.”
In the meantime, you can still take a tour from 5 to 7 p.m. on set dates. Upcoming ones will be offered June 29, July 13 and July 27. There will be no tours given in August. Tours are free and include samples of all beers currently on tap. For more information and to sign up, please visit their website.