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Jester King Craft Brewery launches suit vs. Texas ABC.

The Jester King Craft Brewery, of Austin, TX, has filed suit against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). On Wednesday, attorneys representing Jester King Craft Brewery and two other co-plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment in federal court.

"There's an injustice here, a real difference in the way we're treated against the way the Texas wineries are treated or [how] the breweries are treated in other states," Ron Extract, managing partner of the Jester King, told the Austin Chronicle.

In a press release, the company noted that "We have sued the TABC because we believe that its Code violates our rights under the 1st and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Under the Code, we are not allowed to tell the beer drinking public where our beer is sold. We are also not permitted to use accurate terms to describe our beers. We are often forced to choose either to label them inaccurately or not to make beers that we would like to brew. Under the bizarre, antiquated naming system mandated by the TABC Code, we have to call everything we brew over 4% alcohol by weight "Ale" or "Malt Liquor" and everything we brew at or below 4% ABW "beer". This results in non-sensical 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."

In addition, Jester King is making a claim under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, that breweries, like wineries, should be able to sell their products directly to the public in Texas. Finally, the lawsuit challenges the State's requirement that every foreign brewery wishing to sell beer in Texas obtain its own separate license. Foreign wineries and distilleries are not burdened by this requirement.

"When we started Jester King, part of our plan was to help other small, artisan brewers, from both the U.S. and abroad, sell their products in Texas," the company said in a statement. "This is something that we remain interested in. 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 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. As long as there is a TABC Code in Texas that discriminates against and puts undue burdens on breweries both home and abroad, we will do everything in our power to fight for a more just and free system for us and for beer drinkers in our state."
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:Oct 27, 2011
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