Since 2013, brewers across the state have, in the opinion of Peticolas Brewing Company founder Michael Peticolas, been stripped of a pretty important right — the ability to sell the distribution rights to their beers. Peticolas felt so strongly that his rights were being infringed, in fact, that he sued the state of Texas to overturn the law.
Turns out, Peticolas was right. In a suit brought by three Texas breweries — Garland’s Revolver Brewing Company, Austin’s Live Oak Brewing, and Peticolas — an Austin judge ruled yesterday that the 2013 law that banned breweries from selling distribution rights was unconstitutional under the Texas Constitution because the law did not “serve a legitimate public purpose.”
Matt Miller, an attorney with Austin-based group the Institute of Justice represented the breweries, and gave further explanation of why the law was so egregiously unconstitutional. "The Texas Constitution prohibits the Legislature from passing laws that enrich one business at the expense of another," Miller told the Dallas Morning News. "This ruling is a victory for every Texas craft brewery."
Before the 2013 law, brewers were free to sell the rights to market their beer to a distributor of their choosing. When the law was enacted, brewers were forced to give those rights away to distributors, who could then sell the brand to yet another distributor at a profit. “The only ones who weren’t allowed to make any money from the distribution of their beers were the brewers,” says Peticolas.
For Peticolas, that victory feels pretty damn sweet. “Not that I’m going to, but I could go tomorrow and sell to another distributor, and I feel like I finally have my constitutional rights back,” he says. “We had a lot of beers tonight to celebrate.”
The State of Texas has 30 days to appeal the decision, though that appears unlikely at this point. In celebration, down a few Blood & Honeys or Velvet Hammers this weekend in honor of freedom.