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Craft Brewers Bitter Over Beer Bill

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Craft breweries in Texas feel a new "beer bill" could end up costing Texans whether they drink or not.

HB 3287 aims to put restrictions on breweries who produce a certain amount of beer every year.

If the bill becomes law, it would force breweries that produce 225,000 barrels of beer annually to sell and then buy back their own beer if they want to sell it in a taproom.

The bill passed the Texas House in early May and just passed the Senate this week. It now sits on the desk of Governor Abbott to sign into law.

"Just complete, utter shock," said John Reardon of Deep Ellum Brewing. "I don't think anyone would ever think something like this could be passed in today's Texas."

Reardon does not understand why the bill is needed. He also does not think he should have to buy back his own beer from a distributor in order to sell in his taproom.

"They just kind of bump up against your dock and pick up a check," said Reardon.

The bill's author is Fort Worth House Rep. Craig Goldman. He feels it is designed to protect smaller breweries from larger beer companies and help create a barrier of bigger brewers from gaining too strong of a hold on the local market.  

"It's not about beer, it's about business," said Wim Bens of Lakewood Brewing Co. "And it's about someone's potential being limited. And that's un-American and that's un-Texan."

Bens said when he started his brewery five years ago, there were only 60 breweries in Texas. Now, there are more than 200 craft beer companies. He said each one is creating jobs, adding to the tax base and helping the local economy.

"Why put a cap on it at all? It's limiting our growth," said Bens.

Bens suspects if his brewery gets near the limit, he will have to start looking at other states to move to and expand. He already knows of breweries looking to move.

"It's a sad day in Texas when Louisiana and Oklahoma are looking like better states to do business in," said Bens.

Reardon said his big plans for expansion are now down the drain.

"It really just says that Texas is closed for business," said Reardon.

Multiple calls and email to Representative Goldman were not returned.

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