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Meeker PR for OPA Design Studio

After touring 50 craft breweries across Texas, Stephen Oliver of OPA Design Studio says the market is about to be shaken-up by new beer-to-go law

AUSTIN, TX — June 17th, 2019 — Can you imagine if it was illegal for your favorite restaurant to let patrons order food to-go?


That is essentially the situation many of the approximately 275 craft beer breweries in Texas have faced for years. While patrons can enjoy beer in taprooms and beer gardens, no bottles can be sold to take home.


But that changed when Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a massive, 325-page bill filled with changes to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. It included an amendment which will allow craft brewers to sell beer for consumption “off-premises.”


Until now, Texas had maintained two categories of brewery classifications: Manufacturer and Brewpub. These two designations come with differing rules to follow based upon size, distribution, and also the ability to sell someone a six pack or bottle of their new favorite IPA or Stout. While a Brewpub license holder could sell you the six pack, a Manufacturer could not.


With the Governor’s recent signature, Texas ceases to be the only state in the country where buying beer to go from a craft brewery is illegal, effective September 1, 2019. Both the Breweries and the public will benefit from this long overdue change.


What will the new law mean for Texas craft breweries?


Stephen Oliver leads OPA Design Studio, an Austin-based architecture and design firm specializing in breweries and distilleries. He says many craft breweries have been planning changes to take advantage of opportunities that are presented by the new law.


Oliver of OPA on Beer to Go Law


“Beer to Go certainly provides an opportunity for long-range stability for craft breweries with respect to increased viability of the tap room,” says Oliver. “Now, effectively all Texas craft breweries can count on retail sales as part of the Tap Room revenue up to 5000 BBL’s a year. Very few breweries are anywhere near that with respect to on site consumption. Adding To-Go sales makes a successful Tap Room even more valuable.”


Back in March, Oliver embarked on a Texas Brewery Road Trip and drove across Texas in an RV to visit 50 breweries and brewpubs in just ten days. Along the way, he gained a better understanding of their needs, hopes, aspirations, challenges and goals. As part of the tour experience, he saw first-hand the strict limitations the law placed upon breweries. Limited release small batch beers could only be consumed at the brewery. For the average brewery tourist who might want to take a new favorite beer home, lost sales for the Tap Room were clearly evident. 


“Today, a lot of brewers have ‘tap room only’ beers that are different from what they sell at stores. So, if you’re visiting a brewery with friends in Austin, Houston or Dallas, you can’t take your new favorite beer you just discovered at the brewery home with you. The new beer law will resolve this problem. You will be able to leave with a couple of crowlers of your new favorite beer that’s only served in the tap room,” says Oliver.


He says beer lovers in Texas will enjoy the experience of discovering new beers and breweries even more when they can take it to-go.


While Oliver is optimistic about how craft breweries will gain from the change in the law, he also urges caution.


“The craft industry is undergoing shifts as the rapid growth of the last 5 years has slowed. With increased competition and slower sales, the Tap Room experience should be carefully thought-thru and well designed. The consumer has options and wants variety, comfort, new beers to try, something unique or differentiating from the other local choices. They want memorable experiences to share. This goes beyond simply adding new retail coolers and beer garden tables to create and maintain brand loyalty.” says Oliver.


According to Oliver, the new law could help forge deeper bonds between consumers and breweries.


Oliver of OPA on Beer to Go Law


About Stephen Oliver, Principal of OPA Design Studio

After designing his first brewery in 2012, Stephen Oliver has been a part of site selection, planning, design and construction of over two dozen facilities in Austin and beyond, including Live Oak Brewery, Still Austin Whiskey, Pinthouse Pizza, Family Business, Austin Eastciders, Cuvee Coffee and Vista Brewing. The Brewery Architect (http://www.breweryarchitect.com/blog) is a blog extension of Oliver’s architectural work at OPA Design Studio. The blog takes a deeper dive into design issues and industry trends surrounding breweries and distilleries.


About the Texas Brewery Road Trip

In March 2019, Stephen Oliver of OPA Design Studio (http://www.designopa.com/) and The Brewery Architect Blog (http://www.breweryarchitect.com/blog), and Caitlin Johnson of Big World, Small Girl (http://www.bigworldsmallgirl.com) went on the Texas Brewery Road Trip (http://www.thebreweryroadtrip.com). They drove across Texas in an RV and visited 51 breweries in ten days.


The locations they visited included: Texas Beer Company, New Republic Brewing, Brazos Valley Brewing Company, Lone Pint Brewery, No Label Brewing Company, 11 Below Brewing Company, Eureka Heights Brewing Company, Buffalo Bayou Brew Co, Great Heights Brewing Company, Brash Brewing, Baileson Brewing Co, Vallensons’ Brewing Company, BAKFISH Brewing Company, 8th Wonder Brewing Co, Sigma Brewing Company, Saint Arnold Brewing Co, Holler Brewing Company, Spindletap Brewery, B-52 Brewing, Southern Star Brewing, Copperhead Brewery, True Vine Brewing Company, Oak Highlands Brewery, Lakewood Brewing Company, 3 Nations Brewing, Bitter Sisters Brewing, Unlawful Assembly, Hop & Sting Brewing Company, Panther Island Brewing Company, Cowtown Brewing Company, Deep Ellum Funkatorium, The Collective Brewing Project, Rahr and Sons Brewing Company, Martin House Brewing Company, HopFusion Ale Works, Turning Point, Legal Draft Beer Company, Division Brewing, Peticolas Brewing Company, Texas Ale Project, Celestial Beerworks, Community Brewing Company, Steam Theory, Deep Ellum Brewing, Trinity Cider, Braindead Brewing, Four Corners Brewing, Pegasus City Brewery, Outfit Brewing, Oak Cliff Brewing, Barrow Brewing. For more information about the Texas Brewery Road Trip, including imagery from trip and participating sponsors, please visit www.thebreweryroadtrip.com.