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Metro retailers, brewers gear up for beer law changes

OKLAHOMA CITY - It will be two years ago in November that Oklahoma voted to allow wine to be sold in grocery stores and cold beer in liquor stores. Now, it's a little over a month away from finally becoming a reality.

"There will be a lot more choices. All retailers can have cold strong beer in their facilities," said Lisette Barnes.

The president of the Oklahoma Beer Alliance was talking about major changes in some of your favorite liquor stores. With the coming of the law change on Oct. 1, Grand Cru in northwest Oklahoma City put in a walk-in fridge.

"700 square feet, we have 14 doors and an entry door, so it was very expensive," said Michael Berry of Grand Cru.

Berry said the new expenses will be offset by liquor stores offering cold beer for the first time, including the big domestic brands. They will also be able to sell accessories like openers and coolers.

"We hope that offering so many more services will be profitable for us in the end," Berry said.

It's not just the retailers making changes. Local breweries are scaling up their batch sizes.

"We are ramping up with double or triple production for a normal month to fill the pipeline," said Alan Musser of Anthem Brewery in Oklahoma City.

Musser said Anthem is hiring more people and expanding their facilities.

"We are putting in a tremendous investment this year, upwards to seven figures in expanding our brewery tank farm as well as adding new brew house," Musser said.

Local strong beers will now be on the shelves in grocery, convince stores, even a CVS or Walgreen's. 3-2 beer will still be available but will not be regulated separately like before.

"There will be a lot more brands, but there will also be a lot more variety within those brands that they will be experiencing. A better experience for the consumer; they are going to have more choices and fresher better beer," Barnes said.

Barnes said fears big domestic brands will squeeze out local breweries in the strong beer department just don't hold water.

"Everyone of our member distributors have added personnel, vehicles, trucks expanding their warehouses," she said.

"Hopefully, it turns out to be a very positive move for all of us," Musser said.