There has been a lot of discussion about the “beer-to-go” issue in the state legislature, yet only 10 independent brewers, out of the 315 in Texas, are currently unable to sell beer to go with the proper license.

That’s because they exceed the volume cap of 10,000 barrels (equivalent to 137,770 cases of 12-ounce containers or 2.5 million pints of beer) allowing such.

Let’s add perspective to that amount of volume. My company distributes beer, including leading craft brands, to over 3,000 licensed retail accounts across 17 Texas counties. Our largest single retail account, which is a Walmart, doesn’t sell near the amount of volume stated above. Our average account is less than 4 percent of that.

The argument that craft beer is stifled by Texas regulations is simply not supported by fact. Therefore, a valid question is: What benefit does the state receive by further altering regulations that only benefit 10 large breweries? Also, how does doing so further benefit public policy as it relates to alcohol regulation?

And, what impact would such a change have on the thousands of small retailers who become further disadvantaged by the continuous “carve-outs” that craft brewers request, during each legislative session, to broaden what their license allows?

My family has been distributing beer since the repeal of prohibition. We understand the important need for a credible regulatory environment for alcohol that works for all concerned parties. We’re also sensitive to the harm that can result from the lack of a sound regulatory framework.

The regulatory system for beer in Texas has been challenged for decades by those who don’t like the rules required of their license. The structure of the three-tier system in Texas, however, is well-designed and has long been respected, if not envied, by many other states.

It’s because of the three-tier system, state based regulation, and the model alcohol regulations in this country, that the United States is the best country in the world for brewers, distributors, retailers and consumers.

Many, including me, would argue that Texas is “the” best state. Credit for that goes to generations of lawmakers who have taken the time to understand the reasons behind our regulatory system and the justification for maintaining it with sound decisions for the long-term health of that system.

The regulatory system for beer in Texas isn’t broken nor antiquated. It’s highly successful for all participants; brewers, distributors, retailers and consumers. There’s no justifiable need to further amend state law that will benefit 10 breweries and harm the thousands of independently-owned grocery, convenience and mom-and-pop stores, who have built their businesses over time and within the alcohol laws of the state. These small businesses will be hurt by allowing large breweries to directly compete with them.

I urge Texas lawmakers to remain cautious about routinely making adjustments to state alcohol regulations every two years, which could eventually lead to licenses becoming meaningless.

Larry Del Papa is president of the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas.

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(2) comments

Ray Taft

According to this article, Del Papa distributes beer to over 3,000 licensed retail accounts across 17 Texas counties. Larry Del Papa is president of the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas.

Big business tells us not to change the status quo because it’s good, and that amending alcohol regulations to allow equality for all is bad.

The current law serves Del Papa and the Wholesale Beer Distributors very well, which was made clear in this article. Sounds like big business only believes something is good if it benefits them. And bad if it could hurt them.

The solution is to level the playing field for everyone. Texas lawmakers should amend the alcohol regulations to give everyone equal opportunity. Texans will benefit from it.

Gary Scoggin

Whom does the three tier system benefit the most?

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