Good news: Austin breweries will finally be allowed to open taprooms for the public, something craft brewers (and appreciators) in the city have long been clamoring for. But the newly approved changes to Austin's land development code—changes that local news station KXAN tells us took "months of discussion"—still impose several arbitrary restrictions on where and how brewing companies can sell beer.
Under the new rules, only breweries located at least 540 feet away from any single family residences will be allowed to open public taprooms (unless they obtain special dispensation). Breweries must also provide on-site parking (but don't drink and drive folks!). And customers who'd like to taste a beer on tap and then take some home are also out of luck—under Texas law, breweries can only sell draught beer, not bottles for folks to take home.
The rules aren't nearly as stupid as those proposed in Florida, where brewers could have to sell their beer to distributors and then buy it back at marked-up rates in order to sell it on-premise. But as the craft beer industry grows, I think it's interesing to see how different states are responding to the different market opportunities this is opening. Will more of them act to encourage small businesses and innovation? Or will they cave to traditional players in the alcohol industry, such as the big beer and distributor trade associations?