OKLAHOMA CITY — Requests are pouring in for a local brewer’s new novelty beer but the government is saying he can’t sell the brew outside of Oklahoma.
Rick Huebert’s “Nobama Brew” has been a smash hit in the sooner state.
The owner of Huebert Brewing Company can barely keep up with demand.
That’s great news not just for the company but for all of Oklahoma.
Huebert Brewing Marketing Directer Christa Miles said the company tries its best to keep work local.
“We have people from Minco, Oklahoma that provide the boxes [for the beer],” Miles said. “We have people from Henrietta that do our bottling, we have all of our labels that come from the Moore area”
Rick Huebert said he’s also been getting dozens of requests from outside the state for major quantities of “Nobama Brew.”
“Just yesterday we had a request for about 3,000 cases from Texas and New Jersey,” Huebert said.
But Huebert has to respond to all of those requests the same way: No.
When Huebert asked the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to approve the label for “Nobama Brew,” he specifically requested to be able to sell the beer nationwide; that request was approved via written application.
But the TTB official who approved the request, Kent “Battle” Martin, added a line to the application that reads, “THIS PRODUCT IS ONLY FOR SALE IN THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA.”
“[The form] says two things,” Huebert said. “It says I can sell it federally but then it also says I can only sell it in the state.”
We called Martin to ask why the line was added.
He told us to contact a man with TTB public relations.
That man has yet to return our phone call.
But when Rick Huebert’s lawyer, Randy Malone, called Martin, the TTB official gave a different response.
“[Martin] misunderstood that we wanted to sell outside of Oklahoma,” Malone said. “[That] is the impression I got from him.”
Malone, who has been practicing alcohol licensing law since 1989, also said he’s never heard of the TTB making such an error before.
But Huebert doesn’t understand how the TTB could misunderstand a simple application, especially one the agency processes all the time.
“From a business owner’s perspective, it seems like the federal government is doing everything they can to push down business,” Huebert said.
Huebert can re-submit the label for approval but he’s afraid by the time it gets approved the election will be over and the novelty of the beer will have worn off.