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A mission Jimmy Stewart would understand

We love factory tours. You take the tour, see how products are made, and at the end perhaps enjoy some sampling – which could include eating, drinking or drawing with crayons.

You also may buy some of whatever is being made. We’ve hauled home Utz potato chips from Pennsylvania, Jelly Belly “Belly Flops” (rejects that look different but taste the same) from California, and beer from more than a few breweries.

But none in Texas.

A few years ago Texas voters approved a measure that allows wineries to sell (limited quanties) directly to consumers. Wine tourism generates serious bucks in Texas, so that it took until 2003 and a ballot proposition shows that neo-Probitionists types pack some punch. But in the other corner the newly formed Friends of Texas Microbreweries look well prepared as they seek to legalize direct sales to consumers. The FTM is a coalition of Texas craft breweries and beer lovers, with every Texas microbrewery lending support.

“We can no longer ignore the fact that 14 out of 19 microbreweries have failed in Texas in part because current regulations disadvantage microbrewing small businesses,” said Saint Arnold Brewing co-founder Brock Wagner. “This common-sense proposal will allow Texas microbrewers to compete with out-of-state microbrewers on a level playing field.”

Saint Arnold is at the fore, and launched the St. Arnold Goes to Austin Blog. The name? “It evokes the idealism of ‘Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.’ We’re testing the idea that an organized campaign can succeed in changing the law through a little hard work and the grassroots support of the Saint Arnold Army.”

Texas is famous for several beers – most notably Lone Star and Pearl – that live on even though the breweries where they once were made closed long ago. You can’t tour them. Every Saturday morning Saint Arnold is open for tours. The only thing that might make those better is if you could take home beer or six.

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One Response to A mission Jimmy Stewart would understand

  1. Dan December 15, 2006 at 2:15 pm #

    Even with the deck stacked against it, Saint Arnold’s Saturday tour was recently listed among the 10 best small brewery tours by USA Today. Unfortunately, it takes someone like Brock, who has a sophisticated financial background, for a Texas microbrewery to survive. The bill the microbreweries are pushing would be good for the microbreweries and for the distributors, since it would enable more microbreweries to sprout up and help the market blossom. It’s common sense.

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