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After the Lege: New Texas Laws Bring Changes for Entrepreneurs, Brewers and Foodies 

click to enlarge JOHN SAEYONG RA
  • John Saeyong Ra
Gov. Greg Abbott signed several bills into law during Texas’ most recent legislative session that promise change the way we eat and drink in the state.
Among the changes as of September 1 are the ability for craft breweries to offer beer to go, for certain businesses to make alcohol deliveries and for food entrepreneurs to sell directly to customers.

All those changes arrived on September 1. Here’s what’s new:

Texas Cottage Food Law

Under the Texas Cottage Food Law, entrepreneurs can manage some types of food businesses from home – legally creating products and selling them directly to customers. The restrictive law hadn’t changed much since its passage in 2011.

In one of the biggest cottage law revisions to date, Texas lawmakers expanded the list of approved items to include more pickled and fermented foods, all non-perishable foods and even select frozen produce.

The law previously restricted many products, allowing only the specifically listed items — pickled cucumbers were included, while pickled okra was not — and that made business tough for many operators.

“This is great news for local entrepreneurs,” said Leslie Provence, vice president of the Food Policy Council of San Antonio.

Provence’s group has reached out to local organizations and neighborhood groups to spread awareness about the revisions.

The law change also allows cottage food internet sales, which were previously banned. Operators can take orders and payment online, but they must personally deliver the product to ensure direct contact. The businesses also must provide food label information prior to payment.

“If we can make [locals] aware of these changes, they could potentially start a business that allows them to make up to $50,000 a year, as part of their annual household income,” Provence said. “That’s a lot of banana bread.”

Beer-to-Go Sales

Thanks to the most prominent of the new laws, beer lovers are now able to take home a case from their favorite local craft breweries. Legislators passed the new rule as an amendment to HB 1545, which renewed the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Despite some pushback from large brewers and wholesale beer distributors, the change is expected to bring more tourists and revenue to craft breweries. The number of craft brewers in the state in the has grown to 283 from fewer than 60 eight years ago, according to the National Brewers Association.

Texas was the last remaining state to restrict onsite brewery sales. The new bill allows brewers to sell a single 24-pack of beer to each customer per day, or nine crowlers, 32-ounce cans that have replaced the familiar glass-jug growlers.

Most San Antonio brewpubs, which produce and sell up to 10,000 barrels on- and off-site annually, already have licenses to sell their brews on premises. But for local manufacturing breweries like Alamo Beer and Dorcol Distilling + Brewing, which produce up to 225,000 barrels each year, the beer-to-go provision is a welcome change.

“To finally be able to send folks home with a sixer of Betty, our most popular beer, will have an impact on brand recognition, marketing and overall growth for us at Dorćol,” brewery co-founder Boyan Kalusevic told the Current.

Dorćol recently celebrated the milestone legislation with the release of its first canned Betty, inviting locals to enjoy brews and live music during its monthly Music for Advanced Listeners event.

Though there aren’t many local breweries affected by the change, it’s still a victory that beer lovers can take home what they sample, said Dustin Baker, head brewer for San Antonio’s Roadmap Brewery.

“This is still great news for the local beer community and for beer lovers,” Baker said.

Alcohol Delivery

With the passage of SB 1232, thousands of Texas retailers were also able to deliver beer and wine to customers’ homes.

Under the new bill, retailers — including restaurants and coffee shops — can apply for permits to deliver orders or contract the delivery to outside companies like Instacart.

Of course, the delivery process will require both customers and employees to be over 21.

Lemonade Stands

Thanks to the passage of HB234, unlicensed lemonade stands operated by children are officially legal. The bill, which only applies to those under 18, essentially provides a waiver to health codes that could be used to ban the stands. Now, not even neighborhood associations — nor Neighborhood Becky — can prohibit the sale of non-alcoholic beverages on private property, according to the new rules.

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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