Michael Peticolas founder of Peticolas Brewing Co. (Mark Graham)
Please forgive Michael Peticolas and his fellow Texas craft brewers if they consumed a little more of their own supply than usual over the weekend—they had cause for celebration.
The Dallas attorney and founder of Peticolas Brewing Co. just added millions of dollars of value to Texas’ booming craft beer industry by overturning a law that prohibits the state’s 140 independent brewers from selling their distribution rights.
That law, known as SB 639, had prohibited the independent brewers from receiving monetary compensation for their distribution rights. It was passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as a part of a package of legislation aimed at promoting the craft brew industry.
Peticolas, who defied extreme odds when he overcame archaic Prohibition-era laws to launch one of the first independent breweries in North Texas in 2011, is part of a group of attorneys and brewers who have shaped Texas law through their love of IPAs, stouts and lagers.
Texas law generally mandates separation between businesses that produce alcohol and those that distribute it. Peticolas produces 4,500 barrels a year and self-distributes it to a network of bars and pubs a mere 39 miles away from his Dallas brewery. He figured his beer could go further if he could sell his distribution rights—which were worth millions for his popular, award-winning beer.
So Peticolas and two other craft brewers last year decided to challenged SB 639 and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s ablity to enforce it in a lawsuit before Austin State District Judge Karin Crump. And on Aug. 25, Crump agreed with their arguments that the law violated the Texas Constitution by favoring one business over the other.
“It’s a huge deal. It restores millions of dollars of value to brewers who had their rights taken from them for no justifiable reason,” said Peticolas, who worked as a plaintiffs lawyer before becoming a full-time brewer.
“I took it personally that our rights were taken away when I spent my career protecting other people’s rights,” Peticolas said. “And that’s when I got heavily involved in the process.”