Across the country, craft beer is exploding onto the culinary map. Not since before prohibition has the country seen so many small, local breweries burst onto the scene. In Texas, the craft beer industry is alive and growing. In 2011, 78 craft beer manufacturers dotted the Lone Star State (up from 52 in 2010) with another 61 breweries-in-planning.

In a new report released by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild (TCBG), the total economic impact of craft beer in Texas is estimated at over $608 million. In 2009, when the study was last conducted, the direct economic impact of these small businesses amounted to $82.5 million. In just two years direct economic impact grew to $221.6 million – an increase of 169%.

While these numbers are impressive, Texas craft beer only accounts for 0.7% of all beer consumed in the state while Oregon, for instance, enjoys a 15.8% craft beer consumption rate. Surveyed Texan brewers most attribute the slow growth to TABC’s “access-to-market restrictions” and believe it is the policy most threatening to their small businesses. According to TCBG, “access-to-market restrictions” deter an estimated $5 billion in additional economic impact.

Clearly, the government’s protectionist policy is dampening potential economic growth, but if Texas were to clear the lines of regulatory burden and allow manufacturers to produce more we could be toasting frothy, cold draughts of economic freedom to an overall growth of Texas’ economic pie.