Oklahoma attorney general sides with craft breweries, giving way for high-point beer by the glass

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Some craft breweries are considering it a victory after they say they were left in limbo while the state looked into a new law.

Gov. Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 424 into law in May, seemingly allowing brewers to serve their high-point beer to patrons by the glass.

Currently, breweries may serve low-point beer in tap rooms, but only provide samples of strong beers to patrons.

But the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission (ABLE) asked for the attorney general’s guidance interpreting the law.

“It doesn’t spell out you can have on-premise consumption,” ABLE director Keith Burt said. “We have to abide by the law. So we’re asking for the attorney general to give his guidance. I hope it goes [the brewers’] way.”

Craft brewers learned about ABLE’s concerns Thursday afternoon, just over a week before the new law was scheduled to take effect.

“The tap room is a huge part of our business model, especially at the start for us,” said Joel Irby, who moved back to Oklahoma to start Stonecloud Brewing Company. “Finding out last night was just pretty devastating especially because we’ve already committed to a lot of the investment in the business.”

 

State Rep. Cory Williams (D-Stillwater), who wrote the bill, said upholding the intent of the law in a timely fashion is “the difference between bankruptcy and success.”

On Tuesday, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced that he had reviewed the bill and given an official opinion to the ABLE Commission.

“As promised, my office has completed its legal review and analysis of SB 424 and has issued an official opinion in response to the ABLE Commission’s request. Interpreting the law is never about picking winners or losers. This opinion upholds the original intent of the legislature, which was to permit craft brewers to sell high-point beer for consumption both on and off their premises. I am confident this opinion provides certainty to regulators, businesses, and the people of Oklahoma,” Pruitt said in a statement.

 

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