AAS: Crowler? Growler? Austin beer battle heads to court


The Austin American-Statesman gives us a good update on Cuvee’s “crowler” vs. “growler” fight with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Looks like the whole mess is headed to court, with the coffee shop filing a suit against TABC because they want to can other people’s beer, out of the tap, at the counter, and then sell it to go. They don’t see the difference between these “crowlers” and the “growlers” that brew houses fill up (glass jugs) with their own beer and send home with customers.

Some argue that if places can sell Coke to go, they should sell beer to go – even though it was manufactured by someone else. Their opponents on that point argue that, among other things, beer ain’t soda and the rules should be different.

But these are not the only points – not by a long shot. It goes way deeper than that, and the AAS has a good handle on it in their article this week:

“TABC says Cuvee, owned by Mike and Rashelle McKim, didn’t have the proper permit to use its tabletop canning machine and cited the business for “unauthorized manufacturing” – even though Cuvee claims it “does not manufacture or brew beer.”

In a lawsuit filed in Travis County’s 345th District Court, Cuvee says TABC’s search of the business and the subsequent seizure of the crowler machine, crowler cans and other items were “warrantless” and “unlawful.”

Cuvee wants the crowler machine back, but it’s not stopping there. The business is also asking a judge to invalidate TABC’s “arbitrary” rules governing the use of crowler machines.”


Fortune: Best Craft Beers For Your Thanksgiving Dinner


Here’s a great reference from Fortune mag if you want to get away from wine and enjoy a good craft with your bird this week.

“While a lot of people think of Thanksgiving as a wine-centric holiday, craft beer has become a viable alternative in the past few years. The endlessly expanding number of options in style and body make it easy to find something that complements the basics, like turkey and stuffing, as well as more daring dishes.

However, when you’re pairing a beer with any sort of food (a subject we’ll be looking at in more depth in the weeks to come), it’s something that takes some forethought and sometimes trial and error. The trick to pairing any beer (or wine, for that matter) with food is finding one that works with the meal – not that replicates it. You also want to be aware of the type of food you’re eating.”

WBTX: Bryan distributor hosts cool beer memorabilia charity auction

reposted from KBTX.com website

BRYAN - Kristen Distributing has moved into a new location, and the company is giving you the chance to own some of its memorabilia and help a local non-profit with a planned move of its own.

Friday, the local beverage distributor sold off some of its old furniture in an auction. Saturday starting at 10:00 a.m., it will be signage, frames, neon signs, and glass barware that you could own, some dating back to the 1980s. The auctions are taking place at the now-former Kristen location at 1501 Independence Avenue in Bryan, just off FM 2818.

The event will not only lighten Kristen’s load in its move and give you the chance to add something new to your life, but it’s also for a good cause: Boys & Girls Club of the Brazos Valley and its capital campaign.

Read more here and check out the video!

Fortune mag: In the Big Beer merger, Big Beer drinkers lose big


Fortune magazine breaks down why fans of beers from Bud to Grolsch aren’t gonna win in this multibillion-dollar merger.

“The two biggest beer producers in the world are set to merge after SABMiller accepted Anheuser-Busch InBev’s $104 billion offer. The deal will create a brewer selling one in every third beer worldwide, with brands like Budweiser, Stella Artois, Grolsch, Miller, Corona and Peroni under its umbrella.

As with all mergers and acquisitions, the idea is that by joining forces, the new bigger-and-better company can implement economies of scale and scope, as well as increasing its market share — all resulting in greater profits. But there are no guarantees.

 Research consistently finds that between 60% and 80% of acquisitions fail to deliver the expected benefits and more than 50% destroy shareholder value. The reasons usually lie in the buyer being forced to pay too much for the company it is acquiring, botched integration and an over-estimation of the merger’s benefits.”

WSJ: AB InBev Raises Proposal for SABMiller to $103 Billion


Good coverage of the Big Beer merger from the Wall Street Journal:

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV on Monday sweetened its takeover proposal for SABMiller PLC as it sought to get back on track after going public last week with an offer that was designed to get SABMiller’s biggest shareholders on board with the deal but instead backfired.

AB InBev’s latest proposal—its fourth in a few weeks—values the world’s No. 2 brewer at $103.3 billion—a 48% premium to the company’s closing price on Sept. 14, the day before media speculation about a deal began to circulate. Its previous proposal, unveiled last Wednesday, valued the maker of Miller Lite and Pilsner Urquell at $99.2 billion.

Beer map: Hey, this is cool.


Check out the interactive map by WaPo – all the brewers in the Lower 48! 

(I added the totally bro Beer Flag because I don’t want to steal anything fro WaPo, for obvious reasons.)


TABC seizes illegal beer canning equipment from Austin business


Press release from the TABC:



SEPT. 29, 2015



TABC seizes illegal beer canning equipment from Austin business after repeated violations


The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has seized illegal canning equipment and issued a notice of administrative violation to an Austin business following an investigation into repeated violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Code.


Cuvee Coffee has been charged with possession of equipment or material for manufacture of unauthorized beverages after TABC auditors witnessed employees illegally canning beer without the proper permit on multiple occasions. The action comes after the retailer was issued a written warning for the same violation June 25, at which time TABC gave them 30 days to cease canning operations.


Cuvee Coffee was one of a handful of Texas retailers illegally filling, sealing and selling beer in aluminum cans, also called “crowlers.” Under current state law, only businesses with a permit to manufacture or brew beer, ale or malt liquor on-site may can their products for resale. After the original warning’s 30-day deadline had expired, representatives from Cuvee claimed on social media and in the press they would continue filling and selling crowlers in spite of TABC’s directive. These claims led to an undercover investigation in which TABC witnessed repeated sales of crowlers well after the 30-day deadline.


“We know this issue is important to craft beer retailers and their customers, and we support all citizens’ right to petition the Commission, the Legislature or the courts if they feel a provision in the Alcoholic Beverage Code is unfair,” said Dexter K. Jones, TABC Assistant Chief for Audit and Investigations. “However, we do not support the continued violation of the law just because a retailer disagrees with it. Cuvee Coffee ignored our repeated warnings and discussions, and that conduct resulted in TABC seizing the illegal equipment and subjecting its permit to a civil penalty. Other retailers who engage in illegal canning risk similar consequences.”


Now that the administrative violation has been issued, Cuvee Coffee has the option of paying a fine and ceasing the illegal activity, or contesting the penalty before a state administrative judge. Any future violation increases the administrative penalty, which can include cancellation of the retailer’s alcoholic beverage permit or license.


Possession of a crowler machine is not illegal, though using the machine to can alcoholic beverages without the proper permit is a violation of the Alcoholic Beverage Code. Texas residents who wish to report illegal canning may do so by calling 1-888-THE-TABC.

Even with red tape, craft beers doing great in the Lone Star State

Community Beer Company, Dallas (By Erika Lambreton/TBIJ)

Let’s face it, red tape sucks and it always will.

That said, there are a few areas in life where it’s necessary, and even beneficial, to drag people through an arduous and frustrating process that tests the limits of patience, endurance and civility.

Times in which it is a GOOD thing to trouble people with vast piles of paperwork and regulations and commitment-testing pain-in-the-assery?

When they want to take care of your kid. When they want to adopt a pet. When they want to borrow a great sum of money. And when they want to make and sell a mind-altering substance. To a lot of people.

A story in the Victoria Advocate this weekend rightly pointed out that the license and permitting process to open a brewery in Texas is expensive (sort of – $5000 ain’t pocket change, but it’s easy enough to scrounge together if your beer’s any good) and formidable, particularly for an individual who isn’t in a position to pay a pro to do it.

There are 73 types of permits and licenses the TABC offers, Porter said. Local offices can help businesses determine what kind of license or permit they need. The business must also post a sign for 50 days, announcing alcohol will be made or sold on the premises, Porter said.

It takes 42 days for a permit or license application to be approved once the sign is posted and the pre-qualification is passed through the city and county. During the 42 days, the TABC checks the financial background of the business owner to ensure they don’t have interest in distribution or retail of alcohol. They also conduct site checks and interviews owners, Porter said.

Some regulations are echoes of the organized crime linked to prohibition during the 1920s, said Stefan Zurakowski, brewmaster at Goliad Brewery.

“It used to be a highly regulated industry and it remains a highly regulated industry,” Zurakowski said.

Certainly, and that’s a good thing. But OK, no argument that it’s confusing.

But the story also reminds us that in spite of this, the craft brew industry has just about doubled in size in Texas in the last three years – not coincidentally the same time frame that brand new legislation by the brewers and the independent wholesalers went into effect to help the industry along.

“About 117 craft breweries in the state make 982,918 barrels of beer per year, creating an economic impact of almost $3.8 million in 2014, according to the Brewers Association,” the story reads. “That’s almost twice as many breweries in existence as there were just three years before.”

Here’s the thing. If you’re going to sell alcohol, you need to be willing to do the work. You need to put in the year or two or three that it may take to get sorted out legally. You need to have a good enough product and a strong enough business plan to be able to sell your vision to investors who can help you get started and maybe even pony up for a consultant on the permitting stuff. You need to be willing to go through the rigorous process of proving that you are worthy of taking on such a responsibility as producing and selling alcohol – which has no small effect on society as a whole, as I don’t need to remind you. And you need to show that even after all the punishing paperwork and permitting processes, you are still 110 percent behind your product and willing and enthusiastic about selling beer in Texas.

Besides. Any economics expert (and there are a few in the industry here) would agree that flooding the market is not exactly good for the sellers. I mean. I got a D in Econ, and even I know that.

And it’s worth mentioning that anything that makes life easier for the crafts is eventually going to make life easier for Big Beer. I can’t imagine that’s what the crafts want, although they’ve taken that odd position before.

Can the state of Texas do a better job streamlining the process and making it quicker and easier to start brewing beer and selling it to the general public? Probably. Should they? I’d say that’s debatable.

In any case, I don’t want to overlook the good stuff in this little piece, which is the part about new people looking to open a brewpub and the fact that craft beer is doing so well here in Texas. where they are allowed an advantage over Big Beer in the marketplace and where a really good craft beer can thrive.


Marketwatch: “This company is helping craft brewers beat the beer giants”


Craft brews have a lot of allies in their fight against Big Beer. Us, the drinkers, the indie distributors, and these guys.

“Founded in 2012 with backing from billionaire investor Ron Burkle’s Los Angeles-based private equity and venture capital firm, Yucaipa Cos., The Brew Hub handles brewing capacity, packaging, sales, distribution, quality assurance (lab equipment, technicians) and even pilot brewing for breweries that are starting to outgrow their small, local footprint. They have plans to build five facilities and produce more than 1 million barrels of beer with their brewing partners, but currently have just one facility open on Interstate 4 in Lakeland, Fla., in the corridor between Tampa and Orlando.

“However, The Brew Hub is already gaining momentum. Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Tim Schoen spent 28 years with Anheuser-Busch BUD, +0.64% before leaving the company after its buyout by InBev in 2008. During his time at A-B, he served as the brand manager for its specialty brewing division in the 1990s and attempted to turn the Michelob brand into a line of beer styles to compete with microbreweries that were just starting to emerge at the time.”



Get ready for the Texas Craft Brewers Festival!

Festival 2012

Ah, so much fun headed our way! The 2015 Texas Craft Brewers Festival in Austin happens Sept. 19, and as it gets bigger and better every year, we CANNOT WAIT for this to happen.

This is where I fell in love with a certain dark pumpkin pie beer that only appears for, like, a minute in October.

I love this festival, and I especially love to see it grow, because the continuing upward mobility of craft brews in Texas highlights the entrepreneurial spirit of the Lone Star State, and it shows just how well our system works when it comes to supporting great brewers in making great beer. Especially happy to see the inclusion of Freetail Brewery in San Antonio, brewpub of one Scott Metzger, craft brew activist! Welcome!

New brewers to join the fest this year include (lifted from the website):

Last Stand Brewing Co.

Last Stand Brewing Company is a small independent brewery located between Austin and Dripping Springs. Our mission is to create lasting relationships with our customers by consistently delivering masterfully crafted small batch brews and excellent customer service.

Martin House Brewing Co.

Martin House Brewing Company is a team of brewers, explorers, and dreamers. We avoid tradition in favor of adventure, both in brewing and in life. We value good ingredients and good people, and each of our beers pairs perfectly with life’s memorable moments. We want to be the handcrafted beer you and your friends choose when celebrating your most recent adventure or planning the next one. Martin House – Made in Texas by Texans.

Noble Rey Brewing Co.

Noble Rey Brewing Company is Dallas’ newest brewery to open in the Design/Brewery District. We aim to produce the highest quality hand crafted beers for our customers.

Big Bend Brewing Co.

Big Bend Brewing Co., located between the Rio Grande, Davis Mountains, and Big Bend National Park, is Far West Texas’s only craft brewery. Headed by Brewmaster Steve Anderson, we brewed our first batch of beer in 2012, and have recently added production capacity in aspirations of statewide distribution. Although we hope that all Texans will soon be able to taste our beer in their local bar, we invite each and every one to come sit on our back porch, see our mountain view, and drink The Beer From Out Here where it is born.

Oak Highlands Brewery

Oak Highlands Brewery, located in the Lake Highlands area of Dallas, is dedicated to crafting the highest quality ales and lagers with unrelenting passion and attention to detail.

North By Northwest Restaurant & Brewery

As Austin’s oldest and most upscale brewpub, North by Northwest is well established in the local beer and food scene. Owner Davis Tucker set out to create great beer after a fateful visit to Germany where he had his first sip of a truly amazing beer. Inspired by the German beers and the architecture of the lodges of the Pacific Northwest, the concept of North by Northwest was born. For over 15 years their award-winning brews and incredible food have come together in a fun and interesting atmosphere.

Bindlestick Brewing Co.

Bindlestick is an icon for that time when beer variety reigned across this beautiful country. A time when each town had a different beer that highlighted local ingredients. We wish to resurrect some of these fine brews from old as well as new creations celebrating the variety and flavor. We will highlight local ingredients that show how beautiful this great state of TEXAS is!

Blue Owl Brewing Co.

New to East Austin. Blue Owl Brewing is dedicated to the craft of sour-mashing your favorite beer styles into new experiences.

Bluebonnet Beer Co.

A small craft brewery in Round Rock, Texas, owned and operated by a husband and wife team who focus on classic beer styles with slight enhancements. Nothing too crazy or unapproachable here. Just great, easy-drinking beers that are well-suited to the Texan lifestyle.

Pinthouse Pizza Craft Brewpub

We like hops here at Pinthouse Pizza… some may say we are a bit obssesed with them, but we also like balance and drinakability and, we work tirelessly to create innvoative beers of all styles that showcase the highest quality ingrediants that we source for them. Whether it is our award-winning Fully Adrift Double IPA (2014 Alpha King Runner Up and 2015 L.A. International Beer Competition Silver Medal), elusive Jaguar Shark Barrel Aged Stout (2015 L.A. International Beer Competition Gold Medal, 2014 GABF Bronze Medal, 2014 L.A. International Beer Competition Bronze Medal) or our next Pilot IPA offering, we brew every beer to be delicious, drinkable and pair well with six more! What does that mean, you ask? Well, we like to brew flavorful, complex, and interesting beers that still remain very drinkable. The Pinthouse Pizza brewing style is hop-forward American craft beers heavily influenced by the Olde English pub tradition, where it is commonplace to pull up a stool and stay for a pint or six while spending time with friends. It is through a respect for the craft – both an understanding of the science and the embracement of culture and art – that we construct our beers.

Collective Brewing Project

The Collective is Fort Worth’s first franken-monster of a brewery. We’re an unholy marriage of production brewery and badass taproom. In the Near Southside District, we are North Texas’ only sour, wild, and funky brewery.

Freetail Brewing Co.  - (SHOUT OUT TO METZGER)

San Antonio’s Brewery & Official Beer of a Kick Ass Time. Crafting ales and lagers the Freetail way since 2008.

Goliad Brewing Co.

Goliad Brewing Company is a family-owned craft beer brewery located in the small South Texas town of Goliad. We seek to bring Texas history back to remembrance while passionately crafting consistent beers and remaining pure to the art of brewing.

True Vine Brewing Co.

Men of love and integrity walking in faith and hope, putting their neighbors before themselves and crafting brews that reflect the same, bringing people together and building community. Beer is an amazing social equalizer. Founded in 2011 by friends with a passion for life, quality beer and creative expression, we are an up-and-coming, family-based craft brewery located in Tyler, TX.

Whole Foods Market Brewing Co.

Whole Foods Market’s first in-store brewery, creating unique beers that bridge our wonderful store offerings and the great world of craft brewing.

Zilker Brewing Co.

We’re a craft brewery and taproom focusing on the American-Belgo style while brewing a wide array of interesting and classic beers. Our unique brewing style is influenced by world travel and experimentation. By combining delicate Trappist yeast strains with clean American brewing techniques, we produce a unique beer that is always in balance, always complex, and always has a proper finish.

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