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“We are all adults here,” Group says Oklahomans want changes to liquor laws

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OKLAHOMA - The cold beer battle is heating up in Oklahoma.

Liquor store retailers have reached a major decision that could soon allow cold beer sales in Oklahoma, including wine and 6-point beer in grocery stores.

“Some beers that I like to drink that you can’t get here because they have to be refrigerated, and it’s a hassle,” said Johnathan Saroch.

It's a hassle Saroch says has been around too long.

“We are all adults here. Take off the kid gloves,” he said.

Saroch says he supports any change to liquor laws that would take the drama out of having a drink.

“Football starts on Sunday and I don’t like to drink the low point beer that you can get at 7-11 or anywhere like that. So I would much rather come to the liquor store where I can get a good stout beer,” said Saroch.

Amber Stachmus agrees.

“That’s something that a lot of people complain about, that things can’t already be cold. So if you are taking it somewhere and you don’t have time to chill it, it would make things a lot easier,” she said.

Opinions like these are part of the reason a group of liquor store owners is now backing new legislation.

The Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma says it now supports single strength refrigerated beer statewide.

“The time is now. We are one of five states that still has the split between 3.2 and strong beer. It does make Oklahoma look a little bit silly, and the retailers don’t want to stand in the way of that process,” said Bryan Kerr, president of the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma.

Being able to sell cold products is a key part of Senate Bill 383 proposed earlier this year by Senator Stephanie Bice.

“Obviously, we would love to be able to refrigerate beer and other products for the convenience of the consumer. Six-point beer throughout Oklahoma... now that doesn’t help us, but it’s what the consumer wants,” said Kerr.

The group also supports

  • Wine available in grocery stores
  • Children allowed in stores with parents
  • Liquor stores open on the 4th of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day
  • In-store tastings

“For instance, currently, when a retailer has a tasting, they have to go off site to allow customers to sample products. We want to be able to do those inside the store so the customer can come in, taste a little bit of wine and decide, 'yeah, I want to buy that,'” said Kerr.

Kerr believes the proposal strikes the perfect balance between consumer convenience and public safety.

“That is a consideration. What can you put before the Oklahoma public that will actually pass. Because we are talking about a change in the constitution."

However, the group doesn't support keeping liquor stores open later. They say that's not something consumers want.

If all of those proposals are written into the law, it’s not likely to reach voters until November of 2016.