ABLE Blocks Law Allowing OK Brewers To Sell High-Point Beer
TULSA, Oklahoma - Many Oklahoma craft breweries planned to celebrate next week, but the state's alcohol law enforcement commission is crashing the party.
A new state law allowed breweries and brewpubs to sell full-strength beer on-site starting next week, or so they thought.
The lights are on, the glasses are clean, and the bar at Prairie Brewpub is ready for a busy weekend.
Part owner Ryan Stack said business has been good for the new brewpub, but Senate Bill 424 would have made it even better for all craft breweries.
"It's okay to sell low-point beer, that's all well and good, but really what people are really excited about is the strong stuff," Stack said.
The law would have allowed breweries to sell high-point beer on the premises starting next week.
Several businesses planned parties, hired more employees and even remodeled their tap rooms, spending a lot of money.
But now, the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission, ABLE, is putting the brakes on everything, saying it does not believe the law allows customers to drink full-strength beer on site.
"Doesn't spell out you can have on-site consumption," said ABLE Commission director, Keith Burt.
Marshall Brewing Company led the charge for more modern alcohol laws; so, needless to say, they're disappointed.
"We're small businesses, and so these things, you know, they hurt. They affect real people real ways," said Wes Alexander with Marshall Brewing.
The ABLE Commission said breweries can still sell high-point beer to go in six-packs and growlers, but selling it by the glass is not permitted until the attorney general clarifies the law.
Alexander said, "And that removes that component that's really so important us, of visiting with folks over a pint of beer and telling them what it is we do."
The ABLE Commission will ask the Attorney General's Office for a formal opinion on the law. It hopes to have a decision over the next few weeks.