Beer can battles in Texas

R Street's Josiah Neeley on Texas beer container laws:

What’s the difference between a beer can and a mayonnaise jar? It sounds like the opening to a bad joke, but it’s also the basis for a legal and regulatory battle being waged between the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and an Austin-area small business.

Cuvee Coffee is a coffee bar located in a hip area of east Austin. Founded by Michael McKim, Cuvee’s sells beer on tap. Customers who want their beer to-go can have them placed in a growler (a large resealable bottle) or using a crowler (a machine that seals the beer in an aluminum can with a standard pop top). It takes several minutes to produce a can of beer using a crowler and, because the device doesn’t eliminate oxygen from the can, the beer won’t stay fresh for as long as canned beer bought in stores. As such, crowlers are useless as a way to mass-produce canned beer.

Texas law requires businesses that wish to “bottle and can beer and pack it into containers for resale” to hold a manufacturer’s license from TABC. Texas also prohibits the same entity from holding licenses for both the manufacture and retail sale of alcohol. Dating from the years after Prohibition, this mandatory separation is argued to be needed to combat organized crime. In practice the rules often serve to limit competition....