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New craft beer law brings more selection to El Paso

By Crystal Price
EL PASO, Texas -- Some restaurants and liquor stores in the Borderland are already feeling the benefits of the new craft beer law that went into effect Jan 1.

The new law allows breweries and pubs to double their production from 5,000 barrels to 10,000 barrels per year.

The law also allows beer pubs to distribute their beer using third party distributers and sell their product directly to retailers.

Unrulis' Pizza and Pints has 50 different selections of craft beer on their menu.

Restaurant owner Raul 'Chef Rulis' Gonzalez said his restaurant has already begun receiving kegs from Big Bend Brewing Company in Alpine.

"Currently it's already benefited us because some smaller breweries are now starting to make their way over to El Paso," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said craft beers from breweries and brew pubs in Austin, Fort Worth and Houston are headed to the Borderland soon.

Recently, locally-owned restaurant added 19 more brands of craft beer to its menu.

"We're currently using about 10 different breweries, but that number is growing," Gonzalez said. "There's a lot more that are coming online, a lot more that are getting their product to us."

The Liquor Company in El Paso carries about 500 craft beers but the owner said with the new law they hope to double that within the next 10 years.

"What it's really going to do is it's going to benefit the consumer and the Texas beer drinkers that are now going to be able to drink beers that they can only drink in certain cities," said Danny Gerard, owner of The Liquor Company. "Now it's going to allow for distribution to be statewide."

However, Gerard said its going to do more than boost business for restaurants and liquor stores.

"It's going to allow for ease of entry for people to come in and open other breweries," Gerard said. "Over the next 10 years it's going to explode."

"I believe we're the largest city in the country without a brewery, and we're a beer-drinking town," Gonzalez said. "The craft beer segment has been growing leaps and bounds. Now you have a a lot of people who are doing it and interested in it."

Gerard said this is the largest beer law to hit Texas since beer pubs were given permission to brew beer on site in 1993.

Economists in Texas predict the new laws will generate $5.6 billion statewide and create more than 52,000 jobs in the next 10 years.