Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Owners of the popular Eatsie Boys food truck will open their first stand-alone restaurant later this year on Montrose Boulevard, serving everything from breakfast items to sandwiches to house-made gelato.
Closer to downtown, and possibly around the same time, the young entrepreneurs will cut the ribbon on their 8th Wonder Brewery. They recently took possession of a brand-new brewhouse and three shiny tanks that will produce craft beers like Alternate Universe, Hopston and Intellectuale, “the beer that makes you think.”
But don’t expect to see any of those brews on tap at their restaurant. Texas law forbids it.
“What a joke is that?” asked Ryan Soroka, a founding partner of both operations. ” … It makes no sense that we’re doing things the way we have to do them.”
In Texas, brewers must decide whether they want to be a shipping brewery, á la Saint Arnold or Anheuser-Busch, which are prohibited from selling their own products directly to consumers, or a retail brewpub, which cannot distribute to bars, stores and other restaurants.
The catch for 8th Wonder as a shipping brewery is that holders of a Texas brewer’s license are barred from selling alcohol on-site or at any other establishment they own. Licensees are forbidden even from giving away samples at any retail site they own, a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission spokeswoman said.
So for now, at least, Soroka and his business partners will make beer in an old warehouse east of downtown and run a separate (and dry) cafe in the former Kraftsmen site at 4100 Montrose.
Despite what the shill for the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas says later in the story, this arrangement, which is solely to the benefit of the distributors and the big brewers, is hurtful to small outfits like 8th Wonder and to beer drinkers everywhere. It’s the same old story and will continue to be until there are enough members of the Lege who are willing to do something about it. Towards that end, I will point you again to Open the Taps and their Beer Voting Guide. Beer lovers have made progress in each of the past three legislative sessions, and as long as we keep up the pressure, we will eventually get the Lege to do the right thing.