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Culture

Open The Taps needs your help!

Open The Taps was founded just over 5 years ago with a straightforward mission: bettering the environment in Texas for craft beer enthusiasts. We created the organization under a few key principles. First, that we would zealously act in the interest of Texas craft beer consumers, adding their voice to the conversation traditionally dominated by the three tiers of the industry: producers, distributors and retailers. Second, we would work to earn a seat at the table for that ‘fourth tier’ in Austin that could influence legislation that impacted craft beer culture in Texas. Finally, we would accomplish this independently and from the grassroots, raising money primarily from individual consumers and ensuring our governing board of directors were independent of the industry itself.

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To that end, my fellow board members and I worked hard to build the infrastructure of a from-scratch, non-profit consumer advocacy organization, using the template laid down by groups in other states as a start, but creating our own Texas-sized identity. We wanted to expand from our operating base in Houston and go statewide, focusing on the key metro areas, but working to give consumers everywhere in Texas a voice in the legislative process. We raised money, we recruited members, we built relationships with key players in Austin and across Texas, and at the bottom line we accomplished quite a lot of what we aimed to in the beginning.

The changes that have come to help drive the craft beer revolution in Texas aren’t successes that Open The Taps can make sole claim to. The industry came together to make our environment what it is today, but I am confident that we were a major part of the work towards the progress that has been made. I know I speak for everyone that has been a part of the organization when I express my great pride in accomplishing so much that we originally set out to do.

So, past achievements notwithstanding, let’s fast forward to the present day. Craft beer culture is mainstream. Supermarkets are installing growler fill stations. Nearly every community in Texas is expanding local options. The changes are incredible, but the battlegrounds over policy remain the same. How much, from whom and in what container can beer be purchased by consumers? How easy is it to start a new craft brewery or tap room? Can beer festivals and tourism be expanded? And most importantly, how can a rollback of progress made over the past several years be prevented?

The details behind each of the skirmishes in these battles is complex, but at the bottom line, the decisions that impact these issues are going to be made and there are definitely parties working in opposition to consumer interests. Some decisions will happen in TABC ‘stakeholder’ meetings, some in court hearings or in the upcoming 2017 legislative session. Consumers deserve to keep their hard-earned seat at the table for these important debates.

With that in mind, Open the Taps needs some help. Pursuant to our founding principles, the current board is all volunteers — none of us are associated with the industry, and after almost 5 years running the organization, the board is looking to move on. Therefore, we need help. YOUR Help. Open the Taps is at a crossroads. We need the next generation of passionate leaders to reinforce the ranks of the organization, fill those seats we earned and reinforce the energy and passion of the membership across Texas. We need good people able to take the time it requires to step up and take over the leadership of Open the Taps. If no one is willing to step into those leadership roles, the organization will have to be dissolved due to the desire of the current board to move out of their leadership roles and responsibilities.  If that does happen, the Open the Taps organization will reach out to its current membership to determine how to best move forward and liquidate the organization.

Without diving into the nuts and bolts of each board position, we’re anxious to find individuals that share our original passion and principles, and have the time and energy to engage the craft beer community across Texas to that end. The current board stands ready to help hand over the reins of the organization to the next generation. If you’re interested in helping us, please email me at chris@openthetaps.org.

open-the-taps-needs-your-help

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A Dad and husband, a craft beer fan and advocate for Texas craft beer culture, a native Houstonian and UH Cougar, and some other stuff too.

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