Tuesday, June 07, 2011

What are you going to do about it?

Its been a little over a week since we learned that HB 602 was dead in the Senate and that once again micro breweries in Texas were given the short end of the stick. Its been interesting to see the local reaction to the death of the bill. Many folks are blaming ABInbev. In fact in an article on the Houston Press, they report that some restaurants are removing ABInbev products. That's a great idea only if they are replacing those beers with local Texas Craft ones. But if anyone really things boycotting ABInbev is the answer to all our problems, I think your wrong, we must do more.
I'm also happy to hear that both Brock Wagner of Saint Arnold and Scott Metzger of Freetail Brewing are not giving up, that they are going to continue the fight in two years. I think that's great, but unfortunately I do not believe its enough. If any Texas Craft beer lover out there truly believes that with only the breweries fighting the fight that things in this state are going to change, they are very sadly mistaken, we must do more.
I think the only way things in this state change are if the consumers stand up and demand a change. Its that line of thinking that brings me to this post today. I received some inspiration from this post from the wonderful Cathy Clark (founder of Live It Big, Camp Beer, Monsters of Beer, and Houston Beer Week). Here is a beer enthusiast that gets it, she is involved, and I encourage everyone to read the whole post, but I do want to highlight a few points.
In her blog, Cathy states she would like to see the following done:
Un-elect Those Not With Us: who the heck are these TX legislative people? I’d like to find out exactly how these people feel about craft beer in Texas. If they don’t feel as we feel, let’s start by getting them tossed out. Take it to The Man.
Shame Those On the Fence: since politicians aren’t exactly known for their forthrightness and honesty, let’s ensure their support with ads and active campaigns in their hometowns. It’s easy to lie to someone who isn’t your neighbor. It’s hard to go to church and look at someone you stabbed in the back. Shame, and fear of shame, are pretty good motivators. Again, Take it to The Man.
Commission a Study: let’s get some better numbers behind what we all believe is the truth – that more small breweries/brewpubs = more jobs/income to Texas.

Those are all great ideas, and things we should be doing. I want to add a few of my own.
1) Educate our Legislatures. Here is some talking points: Texas is number 2 in beer consumption. Let's get more Texans drinking Texas beer, and keep more money in state helping local economies. Speaking of the local economy, a strong micro brewing culture can increase tourism. In Colorado alone (a state with a much smaller economy, but much larger craft beer culture), craft beer brings in $12 Billion. You don't think that would help the state coffers some?
2) Support those that support Craft Beer. Now that you've educated your legislatures. Support those like Jessica Farrar that have been supportive of Texas Micro breweries. Fund raise for them, campaign for them, etc. Support the restaurants and bars that support craft beer. I mentioned above that some restaurants are getting rid of ABInbev products, that's OK, but if they aren't carrying Texas craft beer, then whats the point? There are many local restaurants that promote a local, and seasonal menu, yet carry either macro brews, or imports exclusively. Don't let them get away with it, ask them to carry local beer, it will go with their menu much better.
3) Educate your friends. Texas has a lot of folks that drink BMC products. Hey I understand that not everyone loves a Double IPA, Sour, Barrel Aged Quad. Many folks just like lighter tasting beers. Well, thats OK. Steer your friends to something local. Texas Craft Breweries make some great easy drinking, very approachable, sessionable beers. Here is a short list, but if you have others leave them in the comments: Southern Star Bombshell Blond, Saint Arnold Lawnmower and Weedwacker, Rahr and Sons Blond, Summer Wheat, Independence Freestyle Wheat, Live Oak Hefeweizen, No Label Brewing El Hefe to name a few.
4) Invite your friends. Houston is pretty lucky, there are a ton of beer events in this town. Heck Rudyards has a monthly beer dinner (3rd Thursday of the Month). Thinks like Camp Beer, Houston Beer Week, Vic and Anthony Beer Dinners, Flying Saucer or Petrol Station Anniversary parties. There are plenty of opportunities to invite your friends, whether or not they are into craft beers, they will have a good time. Craft beer lovers are good people. We'll make you welcome.

Lastly, a question to you. Will you put your money where your mouth is? Its easy to say that you support craft beer, and that you want the Texas Craft beer scene to be better. But other states, like Mississippi (Raise your Pints) and Alabama (Free the Hops) had Consumer Advocacy groups that banded together to help change the laws in their states. Let me be clear, I believe that is the only way things will change in our state. Texas State laws need to change. They need to be changed to support local breweries, and brew pubs, to get rid of antiquated labeling laws, and to help create an environment that will allow local businesses to thrive. My question then is, will you support a Consumer Advocacy group that worked to change these laws?