Jester King Craft Brewery (Austin, TX) has filed suit against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). The lawsuit states the the TABC code violates their 1st & 14 Constitutional Amendments. I tried to simplify what is going down in Te-has…
1st Amendment: Free Speech
14th Amendment: For this issue: Equal Protection Clause.
Jester King is legally NOT allowed to tell the beer drinking public where the beer is sold. Essentially, you can’t ask the brewery where they can get a bottle of _______. In more legal-ease code crap, have you ever seen beer labels in Texas, or special beer labels FOR Texas? They have to say things like – malt liquor (under 4% ABW) , or Ale (Over 5% ABW).
This results in nonsensical and somewhat comical situations where we have to call pale ale at or below 4% ABW “pale beer” and lager that is over 4% ABW “ale”. The State has arrogantly and autocratically cast aside centuries of rich brewing tradition by taking it upon itself to redefine terms that reference flavor and production method as a simple shorthand for alcoholic strength.
Furthermore, terminology like – “Strong” or “low alcohol.” I.E. No Belgian Strong Ale, American Strong Ale etc. ILLEGAL!
We are not allowed to put the alcoholic content on anything the State considers advertising, which includes our website and social media. We are simply seeking to exercise free and truthful speech about the beer we make and strongly believe that the State has no interest in keeping you from knowing the type of beer we make, how strong it is, or where it is sold.
Jester King believes their 14th Amendment rights have been violated because they are unable to sell beer at the brewery, only retailers. They maintain they should be able to sell directly to the public. Brewpubs in Texas find themselves at the other end of the issue.
We are suing because the State has no rational interest in maintaining special restrictions aimed at limiting the sale of beer.
Any brewery not based in Texas must obtain a special license to sell in the state. Wineries are distilleries do not have to do this. This makes it harder and financially cumbersome to small craft brewers. Basically, not fair across the board.
We have chosen to pursue these matters in federal court after witnessing the lack of progress that has resulted from previous attempts to address the inequities of the TABC Code legislatively. During the last legislative session, there were bills aimed at giving breweries and brewpubs similar rights to Texas wineries, but these bills never even made it out of committee.
Fight the power. [PressRelease]