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After city decision, Austin breweries ready to put 'tasting rooms' to use

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Ben Sabel with Circle Brewing Company in Austin says when they opened up shop three and a half years ago, something was clearly missing.

"So we couldn't sell a drop of beer on site so we had to give all of the beer away for free! Which isn't a very good financially sound model," Sabel said.

Circle Brew is on tap in various establishments in Austin and San Antonio and you can find their bottled beers in some local grocery stores.

Ever since they opened for business, they've been lobbying with the Texas Craft Brewers Guild to make it okay in Texas to sell beer on-site for on-site consumption.

Last year, their efforts paid off...at least on the state level.

"After the state passed it, most of the brewers here in Austin thought that it was okay to sell and we didn't hear anything about it until the city told us that's actually not the case that they needed to adjust the zoning restrictions in order for us to sell on site," Sabel said.

And nearly a year later, the Austin City Council finally approved the amendment to the zoning ordinance to make this happen -- with a couple of stipulations. The brewery can't be too close to a residential neighborhood and the so-called "tasting rooms" can't be bigger than 33% or 5,000 feet of the total floor area, whichever is less.

Dan Goodman with (512) Brewery says they sell their craft beer all over the state of Texas and they've actually out-grown their facility. But in a couple of years they hope to benefit from Austin's new brewery blessing.

"We're currently making some plans to build a new facility, a larger one and in those plans we would be implementing a tasting room for that facility," Goodman said.

Circle Brew says once they get past some of the red tape in the coming weeks, they should be ready to put their tasting room to use.

"Bring people in a couple of times a week, have them try the beer here, go on tour, show them the facility, show them how we do what we do, why we do what we do," Sabel said.

"It just feels really good to be in a community that actually is starting to see the importance and values of microbreweries and craft breweries itself. It's a great feeling to be in a city that actually appreciates that," Goodman said.

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