Texas craft beer producers celebrated new laws loosening restrictions on their industry by throwing a 'Texas Beer Freedom' party Wednesday night, appropriately, at the Blue Star Brewery, 1200 WOAI's Michael Board reports.


  The beer was flowing as State Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) congratulated the local business owners for their victory in the Legislature.


  "I think Texas is going to be home to the next Sam Adams, the next set of craft beers that go national!" Villarreal declared.


  The Texas Beer Freedom Act, SB 515, will allow, for the first time, owners of brewpubs to distribute their products to local restaurants, grocery stores, and other venues.  Previous restrictions, pushed by the national breweries, had restricted craft beers from being sold off the brewpub's premises.


  Villarreal says tourists more and more like to drink local craft beers when they visit cities, and he says restaurants an bars, especially along the Riverwalk, are already putting in orders for local beers.


  "Restaurants downtown are calling on the owners of Blue Star and Freetail, asking them to supply their beer," Villarreal said.


  The new laws also end strict caps on the amount of beer a brewpub or craft brewery could brew each year, and prohibited anybody from so much as carrying a beer off the premises of the Texas brew pub.


  The law allows a brew pub to more than double its annual production, from 5,000 to 12,500 barrels per year.  It also allows them to sell their products to wholesalers for retail, and further allows brewpubs to self-distribute up to 1,000 barrels annual to retailers in Texas.


  An economic impact study conducted by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild indicates that this change could enable the industry to grow more than 6,000 more jobs in the state over the coming eight years.