A big TBIJ welcome to the 84th Texas Legislature!

By Charlie L. Harper III

The Texas Beverage Industry Journal would like to welcome the returning and new members of the 84th Texas Legislature, sworn in today on the first day of the 2015 legislative session!

We look forward to a productive session with a vision toward preserving and upholding the Texas traditions of free market, personal success and great beer!

Welcome back to Austin, lawmakers! Here’s a great 140 days!


Riding the craft beer wave in Wichita Falls


Love this success story coming out of Wichita Falls, Texas. This is a great read about a raft of businesses there that have benefitted, and greatly, in JUST THE PAST TWO YEARS from the craft beer business – an industry that is having more success than ever before here in Texas.

We can thank, in large part, the regulatory environment here in the Lone Star State that allows small breweries to grow and reigns in Big Beer from being allowed to take up all the shelf space and market share, leaving room for The Good Stuff.

“There’s a certain camaraderie behind craft beer. It’s kind of kitsch, it’s cool and not everyone is doing it. It’s kind of it’s own little club. At first it started out with the term ‘beer snob’ where it was snooty or snobbish to drink only craft beer, but now it’s the cool thing to do. You can have a gentleman in a suit sitting next to a guy in a construction outfit and they’re both enjoying a great pint of craft beer in whatever flavor profile they enjoy. That’s the cool part about it for me.”

For those who question whether Texas is helping or hurting the craft brewers and their community of drinkers and retailers, I offer up this great piece in the WF Times Record. Cheers to a bright future and a great year!






Takes more than ads, my friend



“Budweiser can update its image all it wants, but that doesn’t change the beer.”

Doesn’t even matter what the photo is. This wins all caption contests, in my personal opinion. Remind me to give them some kind of award.

This appeared on a great blog post in the Dallas Morning News’ Beer Blog, a fantastic site for anyone remotely interested in the industry, about how Budweiser is having to try and revamp its image to start bucking this trend of Millennials, those damn independent thinkers with great taste, turning away from Bud and getting into the craft beers instead. The post is centered around a piece in WaPo (linked below), but has some great insight.

“The nationwide rise of craft beer has the “big three” manufacturers scrambling to reach new drinkers, preferably younger than their core consumer base. For Budweiser, that means keeping its iconic Clydesdale horses stabled this holiday season,according to a recent story by the Wall Street Journal. … There’s one fact Budweiser is overlooking in its quest for tap handles and new audiences. The thirst for craft beer is not being propelled by advertising; it’s being propelled by taste. Ultimately, inundating consumers with a new Budweiser image and procuring rock star endorsements don’t change the beer’s flavor.”

Now, I’m all about Clydesdale and I cried alongside everyone else during the last two Super Bowl commercials, but yeah, it’ll take more than showing some hip Bud Light drinkers using their smart phones to fool a real craft brew appreciator, more of whom are popping up all the time.

This is a fun read and good reminder that for some Big Beer types, it’s all about the ad – and not about the beer.

MillerCoors wants to buy craft brewers cheap


MillerCoors wants your craft brewery, and they want it cheap.

According to a report in Just-Drinks.com, the head of MillerCoors says it the company is interested in acquiring some U.S. craft beer brewers but is being deterred by the high prices of these new assets.

Do they want to low ball the deals? It would seem so, but then again, this should not come as a surprise.

From the article:

“The brewer, a JV between Molson Coors and SABMiller, yesterday reported a 3.7% slip in third-quarter volumes as a strong performance from its “above premium” brands failed to offset declines for Coors Light and Miller Lite. The firm’s Q3 sales were flat, while profits were up 8% to US$376.5m.”

The article quotes CEO Tom Long in a post-results conference call:
““We’re actively looking at those that would create incremental shareholder value, but it’s also no secret that those valuations are extremely high right now.”

Click here for more on this, and thanks to Just-Drinks.com for the tip!

D Mag lists top events to attend during North Texas Beer Week


Thank you, D Magazine, for this outstanding roundup of What Not To Miss during North Texas Beer Week!

From the article:

“Beer-lovers unite each year during North Texas Beer Week to raise their commemorative glasses in honor of the ever-growing Texas beer culture. It’s a celebration that begins with a number of events, Untapped Festival being the biggest — which look place this past weekend — and continues through Sunday, November 9. There are over 285 froth-filled parties taking place within the next week. So, whether you like your mug filled up with an IPA, porter, stout, or even pumpkin ale, you will find at least one happening to quench your thirst and give proper thanks to the great beers of North Texas. Here is a roundup of our top events to hit this week. Cheers.”

For a full schedule of events stretching through Sunday, click here.


AAB Mag: Beer industry reacts to “The New Yorker” November cover

The Nov. 3, 2014 cover of The New Yorker features a drawing titled “Hip Hops” by artist Peter de Sève.

Here’s a reader-talker for you.

The awesome All About Beer Magazine noted a pretty hot cover  on this most recent New Yorker Magazine making waves in the beer industry, and did a great little roundup of the reactions for those of us who like to hang around the water cooler – or keg, whatever – and chat about cultural milestones such as this one.

From the article by John Holl:

The New Yorker released its annual food issue this week and before a hardcopy arrived in my mailbox, my Facebook feed was filled with pictures of the cover. Friends in the beer industry talked about how cool it was and said it’s a sign that beer has “arrived.” The New Yorker asked artist Peter de Sève to draw the cover (called “Hip Hops”) and the magazine goes on to say that the drawing “captures the appropriate seriousness with which beer is handled these days by many Brooklyn restaurants and the people who dine in them.” It wraps up by saying: “It’s an unprecedentedly excellent time to drink beer in Brooklyn, as the cover suggests. Just don’t become a snob about it.”

In my opinion, “Brooklyn” could easily be replaced by “the United States” and this scene could happen in many places (maybe minus the neck tattoo).”

(Unless you’re in Austin, then you’d add a beard. – Ed. note)

Click here for a fun read.

National Beer Wholesalers Association Announces 2014-2015 Board of Directors Officers

Eric Best and Craig Purser (NWBA)


Maryland Beer Distributor Eric Best to Lead Association’s Efforts on Behalf of America’s 3,300 Licensed, Independent Beer Distributors

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) is proud to announce its Board of Directors officers for the 2014-2015 term. Eric Best, general manager/partner of Bob Hall LLC in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, takes the helm as chairman of the Board. He assumed the position and its responsibilities during NBWA’s 77th Annual Convention held September 28 – October 1 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Other officers of NBWA’s Board of Directors include:

  • Vice Chairman Travis Markstein, president of Markstein Beverage Co. in San Marcos, California
  • Treasurer Paul Bertucci, executive vice president of F.E.B. Distributing Company, Inc. in Gulfport and Capital City Beverages, Inc. in Jackson, Mississippi
  • Secretary Michael Bamonti, president & general manager of J. J. Taylor Distributing Minnesota, Inc. in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Immediate Past Chairman Greg LaMantia, member/manager of L & F Distributors, LLC in Texas and New Mexico

As chairman, Best will help lead the association as it works to advocate for licensed, independent beer distributors and educate elected officials, regulators, media and the public about the importance of effective state-based alcohol regulation and the regulatory, economic and commercial value of independent beer distributors.

“Eric has served on the NBWA Board of Directors since 2009, giving him a full background and working knowledge of the association’s goals and agenda,” said NBWA President & CEO Craig Purser. “He is a thoughtful leader and consensus builder, which makes him a very effective advocate for his fellow beer distributors. I look forward to working closely with Eric to advance the association’s goals in the year ahead.”

NBWA and America’s beer distributors support the state-based system of alcohol controls, which ensures an orderly marketplace and protects the public by providing transparency and accountability in the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol. Beer distributors serve as the critical link in the American beer distribution system, sourcing products from brewers and importers and delivering products to state-licensed retailers. This effective system provides access to market for all beer brands – enabling American consumers to choose from the widest selection of products in the world – and works to ensure that only safe, fresh beer reaches American consumers of legal drinking age.

Best manages Bob Hall LLC – an 81-year-old distributorship – in partnership with the Hall brothers, Richard and Clarence, on behalf of the Hall family. Bob Hall LLC has 100 full-time employees and has long been recognized for its contributions to the Southern Maryland community, particularly its work with local law enforcement on responsible drinking and safe driving programs. Bob Hall LLC distributes brands for Anheuser-Busch InBev and Constellation Brands, along with a solid portfolio of craft beer including New Belgium. The company also created a High End Brands division in 2013 to further develop the craft and import segment of its business.

Best holds an MBA degree with a concentration in Finance from the University of Baltimore and a B.S. in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has served as chairman of the Anheuser-Busch Wholesaler Panel and currently serves on the Constellation Brands Beer Division Distributor Council.

Some snippets from the Texas Craft Brewers Festival coverage


Another successful year for the sold-out Texas Craft Brewers Festival, where one chocolate stout sold out of 2,000 pours before 4 p.m. and another brewer served beer out of an ice cream cart.

I mention these little factoids as a tip of the growler to Austin Eater, which gave us this highly colorful take on this awesome tradition – which was, by many accounts, the best yet.

The completely sold out Texas Craft Brewers Festival brought together nearly 60 breweries and brewpubs to Fiesta Gardens on a gray, hot, and slightly drizzling Saturday. For the seventh year in a row, the festival celebrated the best craft beers Texas has to offer, with even more breweries, brewpubs, and food to soak up the booze this time around. For those who weren’t able to make it out, read on for the hangovers, observed.” 

Click the link above to read his list of best named beers, and then here’s a good take on Culturemap’s top 5 best tasting.

“Beer fstivals in Texas have received a notoriously bad rap over the years. Some events have been organized by profiteers not concerned by guest experience or quality offerings, while others have been built by well-meaning (but overwhelmed) groups who simply couldn’t deliver on their promises. How nice it was to visit the 2014 Texas Craft Brewers Festival — an event that was well-planned, well-structured and executed with an experienced and thoughtful hand.” 

Check back here for links to more coverage as it comes out, and feel free to put your own links in the comments!



Beer distributors, including Hopkins of Texas, recognized for service to industry and locals


The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) honored several industry leaders today during NBWA’s 77th Annual Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The first NBWA Life Service Award was presented posthumously to Mike Hopkins, Sr., former executive director of the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas and the founder of Mike Hopkins Distributing Company in Brenham, Texas.

From an article posted on Brewbound:

2013-2014 NBWA Chairman of the Board Greg LaMantia said, “Mike was truly legendary as he possessed the most unique of perspectives: that of a fierce professional advocate for wholesalers and that of an owner of an independent distribution company.”

NBWA President and CEO Craig Purser added, “Following his personal philosophy of ‘Pass-It-On,’ Mike served on the Texas A&M Chancellor’s Council and volunteered for the Make-a-Wish Foundation among other organizations. Locally, if there was a club, he was a supporting member.”

“On September 9, Congressman Kevin Brady honored Mike Hopkins on Capitol Hill, with a tribute in the Congressional Record,” Purser said.

LaMantia said, “As the Congressional Record read, ‘Those who knew him and learned from him were blessed to have a true visionary as a mentor and a friend.’”

A second NBWA Life Service Award was presented to Allen Everette, who joined the beer distribution industry as the chief financial officer of Orange & Blue Distributing in Champaign, Illinois, in 1979.

The NBWA Industry Service Award was presented to Jeremy Pisca, executive director of the Idaho Beer and Wine Distributors Association for his energy, insight and service to the distribution industry.

This is just one of many reasons to get to know your local beer distributor. Here are a few more. 

Shameful, wrong-headed attack is the mark of political amateurs

John Nau III (From UTSA Today website)

A pro-life group has launched a shameful, albeit quixotic, attack on Republican donor and successful beer distributor John Nau because (GASP!) his wife allegedly supported Planned Parenthood in the past.

After 20 years in journalism and 17 covering Texas state politics, this kind of attack STILL sort of amazes me.

Because what this anonymous diatribe (from what appears to be a bogus email “prolifetexas@hushmail.com”) is actually doing with its new, cheap little website aimed at Nau, of Silver Eagle Distributors, is attacking Greg Abbott, their only hope for a pro-life governor this cycle.

Who made THAT call?

And while I’m asking questions, who is this group whose donors can’t be traced? And which can’t put its own name on its email OR the attack website? This doesn’t sound like the typical action of the usual pro-life groups in Texas, who rarely operate in anonymity.

Whoever it is, they’ve gotten all wrapped around the axle about the fact that Abbott has named Nau his campaign treasurer, therefore making him clearly his policy advisor on women’s healthcare because that’s what the money guys do, right? (RIGHT? They fill out the ethics reports and advise candidates on abortion. RIGHT?! What do you mean, NO?!) 

This is really bad, according to this pro-life email, because you know… Greg Abbott HAS ALWAYS BEEN SO WISHY WASHY ABOUT ABORTION.

I mean, what if Nau changes Abbott’s mind and turns him into a big ole abortionist?! IT COULD HAPPEN!

“Why does Greg Abbott have someone who is supporting planned parenthood (sic) as his campaign treasurer?” reads the website.

And then, apparently because they needed to fill white space, they demand to know why U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has Nau as his national finance chairman.

Because, you know. Cornyn HAS ALWAYS BEEN SO WISHY WASHY ABOUT ABORTION. Easily influenced by the far left. A real moderate, that one.

In its attack, the group called Nau “one of the most influential donors with the Associated Republicans of Texas and Texans for Lawsuit Reform” but then says he doesn’t support traditional Republican values.

Here again, I have to ask how a man who has donated boatloads of cash to ART and TLR can be accused of not supporting the GOP? Because perhaps he (or his wife) doesn’t agree on this one issue?

I have to say, if this were primary season, I’d at least be able to give them props on their timing. But Abbott is the nominee, guys. Take out after him, and succeed (OMG right?!), and who do you get? How do you win there?

John Nau has donated to myriad causes over the years and, God forbid, clearly subscribes to the modern-day notion that a man’s wife can support anything she damn well pleases.

This shameful attack on a guy (and wife) who is NOT a politician but who chooses to spend his money affecting the political process – and his time helping candidates that pro-lifers oughta oughta be thanking God for EVERY DAY – is about the most ridiculous political posturing I’ve seen in a very long time.

Let me tell you a little story.

In Oct 2008, the Texas Conservative Review slammed a political activist, Kathy Haigler, for attacking Joan Huffman, now a GOP senator, because she took a donation from Nau, characterized in her attack as a known PP supporter.

Calling the attack a sure sign that the “silly season” in politics had begun, a month before the elections, the TCR – another liberal rag, am I right?! – had this to say:

“What does this have to do with Joan Huffman and her strong pro-life credentials? Absolutely nothing, especially since John Nau has donated to about every key conservative officeholder in the state of Texas, and has even given money to Ms. Haigler’s choice for SD 17.” (EVERY KEY CONSERVATIVE OFFICEHOLDER IN THE STATE OF TEXAS – just making sure you saw that) EVEN HER CANDIDATE.

Huffman won, and as we all know, went on to firmly and categorically support Wendy Davis in her filibuster of the anti-abortion laws last summer.

OH WAIT, NO SHE DIDN’T. Because she’s pro-life. Just like Abbott.

And even John Nau, as powerful and influential and popular as he is, can’t change that. This attack is shameful and cheap, and only shows the weaknesses of his attackers.

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