Kentucky House passes distributor bill – Senate urged to do same

Credit: Charlie L. Harper III

Another editorial in the Lexington Herald Leader earlier in the week celebrates the overwhelming House passage of HB 168 and urges the state Senate to do the same.

It also points out ABInBev’s staunch opposition to the bill, while noting the support of most craft brewers in the state. 

This system benefits craft brewers and stymies Big Beer by holding them at bay to allow the smaller brewers some shelf space (and more) – we already know this in Texas. We encourage other states to embrace it as well.

Thanks to the H-L once again for its leadership!

From the editorial: 

The House passed the so-called beer bill overwhelmingly Tuesday and now the Senate should do the same.

Despite remarkably imaginative arguments to the contrary from AB InBev, the bill is designed to preserve competition and limit monopoly power in the wholesale market for beer and other malt drinks.

That’s a good thing.

House Bill 168 provides that no company that makes beer in Kentucky can sell it at wholesale. This is essentially the law that applies to wine and spirits.

Alcohol regulators, independent distributors, MillerCoors and most craft breweries favor the measure.

AB InBev, the company that resulted when a multinational paid $52 billion for Anheuser-Busch in 2008, is battling to hold on to the wholesale operation Anheuser-Busch has long owned in Louisville and another AB InBev bought last year in Owensboro.

Also, it looks like Tennessee is climbing on board, too. Cheers to you guys – we do a great job with our three-tier system in Texas, and it’s heartening to see crafts in other states recognizing the benefits – as well as who their true enemies (and actual allies) really are.


ICYMI: Craft brewers give three cheers to distribution bill in Kentucky. Texas? Are you listening?


The Lexington Herald-Leader ran an editorial praising a bill that codifies a three-tier system for beer in Kentucky – prohibiting breweries from owning their own distributorships. The bill, House Bill 168, protects beer consumers and producers and keeps multinational beer companies like ABInBev from railroading the smaller crafts, the editorial says.

“It should be passed,” the editorial says. 

We heartily agree. AND SO DO THE CRAFT BREWERS IN KENTUCKY!! Go figure.

“The bill would spell out that those with a Kentucky license to make beer can’t hold a license to distribute it, too. Brewers in Kentucky’s burgeoning craft beer industry say the move is necessary to protect them from being squeezed out of the market,” reads the article (linked right above) that covers the bill’s passage through a House committee in Kentucky earlier this month.

YES. This is our point.

Now, we aren’t in Kentucky. Texas craft beers have been thriving in the Lone Star State for years under our three-tier system. But we extend applause to Kentucky for seeing the benefits of this system, as opposed to falling for the trap set by them by Big Beer and trying to dismantle it – which would only benefit ABInBev, which is never good for the crafts.

I fail to see how some of the craft industry can actually think Big Beer would be on their side. I hope some in that community read this editorial and see how while we are arguing over preserving the basic, and very successful, tenets of our three-tier system here, other states are champing at the bit to put something similar in place. TO PROTECT THE CRAFT BEERS. And their consumers, more importantly, since that’s what this should really be about.

We’d like to thank the Lexington newspaper for its leadership on this. From the editorial: 

It’s probably not possible to know now whether Kentucky law governing production and distribution of beer is so confusing by intent or mistake. Regardless, it’s time to clear it up.

House Bill 168 promises to do that and protect the interests of beer producers and consumers in Kentucky. It should be passed.

The bill seeks to prevent breweries from owning distributorships in Kentucky. It would enforce a three-tier system of beer production, distribution and sales much like that for wine and spirits. Under this system, adopted in many places after the repeal of Prohibition, the producer of an alcoholic beverage, with few a few exceptions, can only sell it to a wholesaler who sells to retailers. 

<snip> ….

The Economist reported last fall that in America AB-InBev, “is suffering growing competition from small makers of ‘craft beer.’” No surprise that AB-InBev has been snapping up craft breweries from Long Island to Oregon, despite the disdain for those beers and their effete drinkers in the Anheuser-Busch Super Bowl ad. It now controls almost half of the U.S. beer market.

In this environment, AB-InBev’s move to expand its distribution footprint raised alarms. A distributor owns the exclusive right to distribute brands of its choosing in a specified area. AB-InBev, of course, wants to distribute the brands it owns. So, the distributor, instead of hustling to serve ever-changing consumer tastes at competitive prices, is pushing its own brands at its own prices.

That inevitably means small brewers will struggle to get their products to retailers, reducing consumer choice.


A sad farewell to a great brewer, but the craft market remains strong


Applause for a fantastic effort from Fort Bend Brewing, which is, sadly, closing its doors after two years in the business – the result of what craft brewers are calling a natural, and expected, shakeout of a crowded and successful market.

All of this according to a great blog post in Beer, Tx, one of our favorite beer blogs in the state, on the Houston Chronicle site.

From the post:

“Scott Birdwell, owner of DeFalco’s Home Wine and Beer Supplies and a longtime observer of the craft beer scene, said in an email that the success of such local newcomers as Whole Foods Brewing Co., 8th Wonder Brewery, Lone Pint, Buffalo Bayou and the Texas Beer Refinery is a testament to Houston’s interest in craft beer:

It is sad, indeed, but I knew there would be a shaking out with all the new breweries opening.  As much I would like to see all of them succeed (the Ft. Bend folks were really nice!), I know that is not likely to be the case.  Still, I think things are encouraging.  Whole Foods Brewery is blowing up (Dave & I have a presentation there later this month).  The new tap room at 8th Wonder is awesome!  Southern Star & Karbach are scaling up.  Lone Pint is rocking.  The Texas Beer Refinery is cranking out some wonderful beers.  Galveston Island seems to be thriving.  Even with the crazy offerings that Buffalo Bayou is releasing, they’re doing well.  Is as if all my kids got accepted into Ivy League schools!”

It’s sad to see a good brewery close, and we wish them the best of luck – and our thanks for contributing some great beer to our lives.

Here’s the statement by Fort Bend Brewing on its website:

“Due to various circumstances, it is with regret we must inform you that Fort Bend Brewing Company ceased brewing operations December 30th, 2014, and permanently closed on January 31st, 2015. FBBC has been brewing high quality beers for over 2 years, and has been a proud contributor to many activities and charities in the local community. We gave it all we had to build a brand that we were proud of. For all our cynics and disparagers, you know who you are, well, my mother taught me if I don’t have anything good to say about someone, then don’t say anything at all – enough said.. To all of our supportive retailers and patrons, we sincerely thank you for your support during the past years, you made it worthwhile. To our awesome volunteers, we couldn’t have done it without you. With the warmest gratitude from the bottom of our heart, thank you, we will miss you. On to the next chapter…. Ty and Sharon Coburn”

Beer industry sees increase of high-end beers in 2014

(From National Beer Wholesalers Association website)

The consumption and sale of beer grew by .5 percent in 2014, with most of that growth coming from crafts and imports, according to year-end numbers released by the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

“Since the end of the recession, the “high-end” – loosely defined as craft plus imports – has grown significantly while the balance of the industry continues to decrease,” the study says. “This high-end segment has added 143.7 million cases since the recession and now accounts for a quarter of industry volumes.”

Check out the study by clicking here. We’ll follow up at TBIJ with more information from the chief economist when it comes in.


AP: Thirst for craft beer fuels large crop of hops


The Associated Press tells us of another sign that the craft beer industry is booming under the current market conditions and regs:

“A thirst for craft beer helped hop growers produce their largest crop of hops in five years. A new report from the Hop Growers of America also shows a 10 percent increase in acres harvested between 2013 and 2014.”

Read the rest of the story here.

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, 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 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.


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