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New liquor law may mean summer beer shortage

MOORE, Okla. - Bare beer shelves can be seen across the state and retailers say it's because of a future change in laws that they're experiencing some shortages.

"It’s just a temporary problem that’s gonna really hurt the summer of 2018," said Bryan Kerr.

Kerr owns Moore Liquor in Moore and he likes to stay stocked up with beer, wine and liquor. But, some shelves are seeing a shortage.

"But all through the summer you’re going to see missing product in liquor stores that you didn’t see missing before," said Kerr.

It's all because of the new liquor law, which goes into effect October 1.

The law will allow alcohol manufacturers, like Anheuser-Busch, to choose as many distributors as it wants, and many are choosing new ones, while low-point beer is getting phased out.

"The big boys, the distributor wholesalers who got the rights, the exclusive rights through law, now that goes into effect on October 1, to sell certain beers are really playing a game at the top with - I’m not really going to be able to sell this beer anymore, so, I’m going to let it run out," said Kerr.

The old retail distributors are winding down their operations by not requesting more products, while the new ones aren't ready.

"Their licenses are not ready to be able to sell that product yet and so we’re seeing a shortage as a result of them not being able to get the product that they need into the state and get it out to all of the new customers," said Kerr.

Some small distributors will merge with other companies, making it confusing for the retailer to get more beer.

"We’re seeing shortages in Corona, we’re seeing some shortages in Modelo, we’e seeing Tecate, Blue Moon, Pabst is a big one, Pabst Blue Ribbon, PBR," Kerr said.

Capitol Distributing LLC General Manager Gordon Green sent this statement to News 4:

“Since State Question 792 passed, Oklahoma has added hundreds of major beer, wine and liquor brands that were previously unavailable in the state. Distributors have hired new workers, increased the sizes of their facilities and contributed to economic growth.

At the same time, our industry is undergoing a major overhaul and has a number of obstacles to overcome before October 1, when cold beer and wine is available, and September 1, when the licensing system changes. Low-point (3.2%) beer is being phased out, which may make it briefly more difficult to find some beer products. Alcohol manufacturers are choosing to do business with different wholesalers, which can cause confusion for retailers about who they can buy certain products from. Some “Class B” wholesalers are winding down their operations and being consolidated into larger companies. All of this may create temporary confusion at the retail level and a temporary inability to find some products. This is to be expected after a series of major, Constitutionally mandated changes to our business model. We anticipate all of those problems being solved by October 1".