The Thirsty Beagle: May 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016

Oklahoma craft beer: You've come a long way, baby

There's a story I like to tell about how far the Oklahoma beer scene has come in the past eight years.

Back in 2008, shortly after starting The Thirsty Beagle blog, I came up with an idea to help spread beer awareness, and I called it the BCS. No, not that BCS. This was the Beer Championship Series, a 64-beer bracket to determine Oklahoma's favorite beer, with blog readers voting their picks on to the next rounds.

The BCS had a good six-year run, but no year was quite as unique as that first bracket in the fall of 2008. For one, that was the only year a non-Oklahoma beer won. Flying Dog Tire Bite was the champion that year, beating out Choc 1919 (now just Choc) in the final.

Of the 64 beers in the bracket, only 16 were from Oklahoma. That's not because I decided to cap it at 16. I'm not kidding, I could barely scrape together 16 beers from Oklahoma to fill out one of the regions. Take a look at those beers -- all from either Choc, Marshall, Bricktown or Belle Isle:

Choc 1919
Belle Isle Blonde Pale Ale
Marshall IPA
Bricktown Copperhead Amber Ale
Choc Pietro Piegari
Belle Isle IPA
Choc Miner Mishap
Belle Isle Power Plant Porter Stout
Bricktown Bison American Wheat
Marshall Sundown Wheat
Bricktown Rock Island Rail Ale
Bricktown Land Run Lager
Bricktown Red Brick Ale
Choc Basement Batch
Marshall McNellie's Pub Ale
Belle Isle Flanagan's Amber Ale

If you've only arrived at Oklahoma craft beer recently, you probably wouldn't even recognize some of those names. And if you know anything about Oklahoma beer now, you know that we could fill an entire 16-beer region with the offerings from just one brewer.

So it was actually pretty awe-inspiring, thinking all the way back to when I started covering Oklahoma beer, to see what happened on Thursday.

Nearly eight years later, the full Oklahoma legislature approved measures to re-write the state constitution and revamp our whole alcohol law system (Senate Joint Resolution 68 and Senate Bill 383) and signed off on a measure that would open the doors to a whole new era of craft brewery profitability (Senate Bill 424).

As one Oklahoma brewer texted me Thursday night: "Wow, just wow!"

Of course, we're not quite at the finish line yet.

The combination of SJR 68 and SB 383 would allow liquor stores to refrigerate beer and wine; allow grocery and convenience stores to sell strong beer (up to 8.99% ABV) and wine; do away with the state's dual-strength system; allow extended hours for liquor stores; allow liquor stores to sell some grocery items; allow brewers to sell their beer at trade shows and festivals; and reorganize our distribution system, among other items. But SB 383 still awaits the governor's signature, and also the passage of SJR 68 by a vote of the people in November. Only with the passage of SJR 68 will SB 383 go into effect. If both receive ultimate approval, they will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2018.

SB 424 stands on its own. Effective Nov. 1 of this year (again, pending the governor's signature), it would allow Oklahoma's small brewers to sell their full-strength beer by the pint, growler, can or bottle to consumers right out of the brewery.

(Blogger's note: The Oklahoman is reporting SB 424 would go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns, which would put the effective date on or around Aug. 25, instead of Nov. 1. I'm trying to get some clarity on that point.)

(Blogger's note No. 2: When the emergency clause in SB 424 was not passed, it left the bill without an effective date. By rule, any bill with no effective date goes into effect 90 days from the day the legislative session adjourns. So, it appears Aug. 25 is indeed likely the big day for Oklahoma brewers.)

For all the still-kind-of-hard-to-fathom changes that SJR 68/SB 383 could bring, I don't think people really understand the effect that SB 424 will have on Oklahoma's beer landscape.

I've been on the record to say that Oklahoma, within a few years, could have more than 30 brick-and-mortar breweries or brewpubs. It will be a wild time for sure. Breweries will open and close. Some will make great beer. Some will make totally average beer. Brewpubs are coming into the districts -- Plaza, Automobile Alley, Midtown, Uptown -- just watch.

I don't think I can state it clearly enough: Oklahoma is on the verge of a craft beer explosion -- one I never could have imagined in 2008.

And I think there's a good reason we arrived at this point -- with the House voting in favor of all three measures on Thursday. Simply, Oklahoma is ready for this type of change.

How else do you explain the rocket-like ascent of Sen. Stephanie Bice's SB 383? When the bill was filed in 2015, it had one intent: Allow liquor stores to refrigerate beer. You just don't go from there to here unless the landscape, the time, the atmosphere -- everything -- is primed and ready for it.

One brewer even suggested to me that with the passage of SJR 68, Oklahoma would have one of the most progressive and equitable set of alcohol laws in the country. Wow, just wow.

However things shake out, Thursday's news left the state's craft beer fans -- and many in the alcohol industry -- in a celebratory mood. Let's take a look at some of the reaction.

From the Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma:

"This is a big day for craft beer in Oklahoma. Most importantly, it is a big day for Oklahoma craft beer consumers. Givings fans of local, artisan craft beer more choice is really what modernizing Oklahoma's adult beverage laws is about for our members.

"We thank all the supporting legislators and we want to recognize the courageous leadership of Senators Bice, Jolley and Crain, Representatives Mulready and Williams, as well as Senate Pro Tempore Bingman and Speaker Hickman. 

"Most importantly, we want to recognize and thank the citizens of Oklahoma for their grassroots support of this effort. Since this process started in the 2014-15 legislative session, citizens' support has been active with thousands of calls and emails to legislative leaders. This would not have happened without overwhelming citizen support."

From Tap Oklahoma:

“We applaud the state legislature for heading consumers’ call for increased choice and convenience when it comes to beer and wine. A legislative solution was always our top priority and now we can shift our focus to getting out the vote in November. We’ll be regrouping with our coalition partners in the coming days to formulate a formal campaign rollout.”

From the Beer Distributors of Oklahoma:

"The desire of the citizens of Oklahoma to have the opportunity to vote to modernize Oklahoma's alcohol laws in November is reality now... (SJR 68) is a broad-based, responsible modernization initiative that if approved by voters will bring Oklahoma's alcohol beverage laws into the modern era."

In addition, Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma leader Bryan Kerr told that his group would continue to fight SJR 68 up until the November election, while Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma spokesman Eric James told NewsOK that his group is confident voters will approve that measure.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

SB 424 passes House, on to governor's desk

Breaking news from the state Capitol this morning!

Senate Bill 424 -- the bill that wold allow Oklahoma craft brewers to sell their full-strength beer to consumers on the brewery premises has passed the state House and now heads to the governor.

The bill passed the House by a 69-20 vote.

The House did not pass the bill's emergency clause, which would have seen it go into effect on July 1. Instead, SB 424 -- should it be signed by the governor -- would go into effect Nov. 1.

There was some discussion Thursday afternoon that the House may reconsider the emergency clause.

Reaction to the passage within beer circles was positive, including this Facebook post from Tulsa's Marshall Brewing Co.:

Ladies & Gentlemen, The game has changed! This morning the House passed SB 424 which will allow Oklahome craft breweries to sell full-strength beers at our breweries starting Nov. 1st. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the thousands of hours that our friends at LOCAL - League of Oklahomans for Change in Alcohol Laws have spent championing this cause. Thank you also to the state legislature for their support, in particular Senator Brian Crane, who introduced this measure in 2015 and saw it through two legislative sessions. Finally, thank you craft beer lovers. We have come along way together. Today we proved that we can make a difference.

To mark the occasion, Marshall announced they will open their tap room from noon to 7 p.m. Friday and offer $1 off all pints.

In other legislative news, Senate Bill 383 was passed by the Senate, with a 33-12 vote.

That bill now goes to the House, where it joins Senate Joint Resolution 68 in awaiting a vote from the full House.

(Blogger's note: I will update this post as more information/reaction is available.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Will Thursday be the day for SJR 68, SBs 383, 424?

Well folks, Thursday could be the day.

I've spoken to several sources today and the consensus is that Senate Joint Resolution 68 and Senate Bill 424 will be taken up by the House on Thursday.

In addition, there is word that Senate Bill 383 will be taken up by the Senate on Thursday morning, and then taken up by the House sometime later in the day.

All three measures are listed in calendars/agendas posted for Thursday -- SJR 68 and SB 424 in the House and SB 383 in the Senate.

So, by end of day tomorrow, SBs 383 and 424 could be headed to the governor's desk, and SJR 68 could be headed to the November election ballot.

While we're here, it's also worth noting that a new version of SB 383 was posted on Thursday, with some significant changes from the first version that I looked at. They are as follows:

-Section 21A: Language allowing liquor stores to serve samples of liquor has been removed.
-Section 33: Language allowing those 18 and older to sell any type of alcohol has been amended to state that no person younger than 21 may sell spirits.
-Section 143: Language allowing liquor stores to remain open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week has been amended to state that liquor stores can be open from 10 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday. Also, language permitting people younger than 21 in liquor stores as long as they were accompanied by someone 21 or older has been struck. Now, only those 21 or older would be permitted.

I'm not saying those are the only changes in the bill -- those are just the changes to the sections I had highlighted in an earlier blog post. You can find the updated text of the bill right here.

Stay tuned tomorrow; it could be a wild and woolly day.

Monday, May 23, 2016

As deadline nears, Senate approves SJR 68, SB 424

With only a few days left in the 2016 legislative session, a pair of key alcohol law reform measures today took one step closer to their respective finish lines.

The Oklahoma Senate voted 42-3 this afternoon to approve Senate Bill 424. The bill, which would go into effect July 1 of this year, would allow Oklahoma craft brewers to sell their full-strength beers to consumers on the brewery premises.

The bill does not appear to differentiate between sales for on- or off-premise consumption.

A wide cross-sample of Oklahoma brewers have described this bill as a game-changer in the state's craft beer industry.

The bill now moves along to a vote of the full House. If it is passed there, it would need only the governor's signature to go into effect.

Also this afternoon, in an expected move, the Senate voted 30-14 to approve Senate Joint Resolution 68. This now sends SJR 68 back to the full House for consideration.

With approval from the House, SJR 68 would send to the November election ballot a state question asking voters to revamp the Oklahoma constitution as it pertains to alcohol laws. The primary results, among others, would be elimination of Oklahoma's dual-strength system and the sale of strong beer and wine in grocery and convenience stores.

A companion bill, Senate Bill 383, would spell out more changes, although that bill remains in committee and can't go into effect without the passage of SJR 68 first.

Both the Beer Distributors of Oklahoma and Tap Oklahoma, the advocacy group backed by the likes of Walmart and the state's convenience stores, voiced support for the Senate's action on SJR 68.

"The Beer Distributors of Oklahoma applaud the state Senate for their passage of SJR 68, and look forward to the measure being taken up again in the House of Representatives before the legislative session adjourns this week," said Brett Robinson, BDO president.

Tap Oklahoma spokesman Tyler Moore issued this statement:

"We're one step closer to allowing Oklahomans to vote on modern beer and wine laws this November. The widespread support from today's vote confirms our polling, which shows the majority of Oklahomans want increased choice and convenience when it comes to beer and wine."

(Blogger's note: I will update this story as more reaction/information becomes available.)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Oklahoma craft brewers endorse SJR 68, SBs 383, 424

The Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma today announced support for all three of the beer-related measures making their way through the state Capitol this legislative session.

The CBAO released this statement earlier this (Thursday) afternoon, endorsing Senate Joint Resolution 68 and Senate Bills 383 and 424:

As friends and supporters of craft beer in Oklahoma, this is your opportunity to have an important influence on modernizing our liquor laws…and the time to act is now! There are three pieces of legislation that really need your support very soon; SJR 68, SB 383 and SB 424. The first two (SJR 68 and SB 383) work together to make the big modernization changes we've all been striving for over the last year…or more. Even after we all vote "yes" for these sweeping changes in November, they won't actually fully take effect until late 2018. In the meantime, the much smaller bill (SB 424) would act as a gap measure that grants Oklahoma craft brewers some new strong beer sales rights in their tap rooms (until the bigger changes happen in 2018). We've listened to all you awesome craft beer fans in our breweries and tap rooms, and this is what you've all been asking for! Please take 5 minutes and contact your legislator and ask them to vote for SJR 68, SB 383, and SB 424. You can find your legislator here:  #freethetaps

There is only one week and one day -- pending any kind of special session -- left in the 2016 legislative session.

Monday, May 16, 2016

SB 383 would flip Oklahoma's alcohol law script

You're probably a busy guy (or gal). Between keeping the lawn mowed, taking out the trash and trying to turn your children (if you have any) into productive and thoughtful human beings, you probably wouldn't have time to read all 276 pages and 198 sections of Senate Bill 383.

I, on the other hand, apparently don't have to worry about any of that stuff -- hope you turn out great son! -- because I did take the time to read over all 276 pages of the preliminary version of the bill.

To be clear, this bill -- a complete re-write of Oklahoma's alcohol laws -- is a long way from home. It hasn't even been formally introduced at this point. It must make it out of committees in both the Senate and House, then be approved by both the full Senate and House. Then be signed by the governor.

And even then, it only goes into effect if Senate Joint Resolution 68 is approved by a vote of the people in November. And even then, that assumes SJR 68 is passed through the Legislature and actually referred to the election ballot.

There's a good chance it could be changed before it's formally introduced. There's also a good chance it'll be changed after it's formally introduced. There's even a chance it won't be formally introduced at all this session.

Clearly, we're a long way from here to there. I also know that many key stakeholders are reviewing the bill and will most assuredly suggest changes. So take what I'm about to share with a grain of salt -- it could come out differently in the wash (how many cliches can I put in one sentence?).

At the very least, however, what I'm about to share provides a good idea of the direction we could be headed when it comes to our alcohol laws.

So, what is SB 383 all about? A majority of the 198 sections have to do with rules and licensing and the structure and duties of the ABLE Commission, etc. I would wager a guess that most of the bill would not interest the general public.

I'm going to focus on the parts that would interest the average alcoholic beverage consumer, and, frankly, that interested me. Let's dive in.

First and foremost, the bill goes into effect only if SJR 68 is passed. All but one section of the bill would then go into effect on Oct. 1, 2018. One section, Section 4, which would recreate the ABLE Commission, would go into effect one year earlier, on Oct. 1, 2017.

Possibly the biggest change as far as consumers are concerned would be the times and days when alcohol could be sold (Section 143). Retail sales of spirits, wine or beer could be conducted from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week -- Monday through Sunday -- and on election days, but not on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day.

And here's another biggie: The bill says nobody younger than 21 would be allowed in a liquor store, unless that person is accompanied by someone 21 or older (also Section 143). So, SB 383 would allow you to take your child into the liquor store with you.

(Blogger's note: Sen. Stephanie Bice responded to this post on Facebook this morning saying that days and times of sales will be changed and children in package stores will be changed. Like I've warned -- a lot can still change.)

We heard Sen. Stephanie Bice tell The Oklahoman a few weeks back that SB 383 would require anyone selling alcohol be at least 18 years old. That is in the bill, in Section 33, and it covers those working in licensed package stores; retail spirits, retail wine or retail beer establishments; brew pubs; mixed-beverage establishments; beer and wine establishments; bottle clubs; public events; or any establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold, mixed or served.

The bill would create a small brewer license (Section 14) that would allow for the sale of beer for either on- or off-premise consumption to consumers on the brewery premises, or on premises located contiguous to the brewery. It would also allow brewers to sell beer at trade shows or festivals, to serve up to 12 ounces of free samples and to hold a small brewer self-distribution license.

SB 383 would allow liquor stores to serve up to 2 ounces of free samples of spirits per day (Section 21A). It would allow grocery or convenience stores to sell wine not exceeding 15 percent ABV (Section 21B) and would allow grocery and convenience stores to sell beer not exceeding 8.99 percent ABV (Section 21C). So, no Bomb!, Hoptometrist or Territorial Reserve Oak Aged Imperial Stout, for example, would be allowed at the grocery store.

The bill would establish a brewpub license (Section 44) that would allow someone to manufacture, bottle, package and store beer on premise; sell beer to a distributor; sell beer for on- or off-premise consumption to consumers on the brewery premises, or premises located contiguous to the brewery; sell beer at trade shows or festivals; hold a mixed-beverage license, beer and wine license or caterer's license; and hold a brewpub self-distribution license. So you could do beer, food, wine, mixed drinks -- plus have the ability to sell your beer in other retail outlets.

Note as well that the small brewer license and the brewpub license both allow beer sales at trade shows or festivals. This puts brewers on level ground with winemakers, and will probably make stuff like the State Fair a lot more interesting for craft beer fans.

For all you homebrewers out there, Section 52 offers an annual personal use permit for the production and possession of beer, fermented non-distilled cider or wine. The permit holder would be limited to possession of less than 200 gallons of each of those beverages.

More liquor store stuff: Section 68 says that no person could hold an interest in more than two liquor stores. It also allows liquor stores to sell anything available at a grocery or convenience store -- except for petroleum products -- so long as the sale of such items does not comprise more than 20 percent of total monthly sales. So, liquor stores couldn't become gas stations, and vice versa.

Last thing I'll go over are Sections 77 and 78 -- those deal with distribution of beer. The bill would require beer manufacturers to have written agreements with distributors designating specific territories within which those distributors may sell the brewer's designated brands (Section 77). Per Section 78, the brewer could only have one licensed distributor for each designated sales territory; distributors who are distributing low-point beer that now will become high-point beer would be compensated for losing the right to distribute the low-point beer; and low-point manufacturers would be allowed to continue distributing low-point beer in two distribution territories pending future legislative action.

(That last part I thought was interesting -- it seems to say that Budweiser, for example, could continue to distribute its own low-point beer, but perhaps would not be allowed to distribute its own high-point beer. If Budweiser opts not to sell low-point beer in Oklahoma anymore, which you would assume they would, that leaves them not distributing any of their own beer, which is what they got all worked up about in the first version of SJR 68. Maybe I'm reading it wrong? Either way, with the bill not going into effect until October 2018 at the earliest, that may give the Legislature enough time to strip Budweiser of self-distribution rights before any of this even matters. If not, I'm sure we'll hear about it from Anheuser-Busch. They have been known to be quite vocal when they are upset.)

So, those were the high points for me. I'll continue to look at the bill and convey anything else I see that is interesting. Please, please, please remember that this bill is subject to change.

Now, for your reading pleasure, please see a section-by-section summary of everything in the bill. Some of the more mundane stuff I didn't spell out. If you have questions about any particular section that is not spelled out, drop me a line in the comments and I'll look it up for you.

Sec. 1: Establishing the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverages Control Act.
Sec. 2: Definitions; defining purpose of OABCA
Sec. 3: Definitions; defining the ABLE Commission, etc.
Sec. 4: Recreating the ABLE Commission
Sec. 5: Definitions; ABLE Commission
Sec. 6: Definitions; ABLE Commission
Sec. 7: Definitions; ABLE Commission
Sec. 8: Definitions; ABLE Commission
Sec. 9: Definitions; ABLE Commission
Sec. 10: Definitions; ABLE Commission
Sec. 11: Definitions; licensing
Sec. 12: Definitions; licensing
Sec. 13: Definitions; licensing and fees
Sec. 14: Small brewer license; can sell beer for either on- or off-premise consumption to consumer on the brewery premises, or on premises located contiguous thereto; can sell beer at trade shows or festivals; can serve up to 12 ounces of free samples of beer per day; can hold a small brewer self-distribution license
Sec. 15: Distiller license
Sec. 16: Winemaker license
Sec. 17: Winemaker self-distribution license
Sec. 18: Rectifier license
Sec. 19: Wine and spirits wholesale license
Sec. 20: Beer distributor license
Sec. 21A: Retail spirits license; can sell wine, spirits or beer; can serve up to 2 ounces of free samples of spirits per day
Sec. 21B: Retail wine license; can sell wine; cannot sell wine with an ABV in excess of 15 percent
Sec. 21C: Retail beer license; can sell beer; cannot sell beer with an ABV in excess of 8.99 percent
Sec. 22: Mixed beverage license
Sec. 23: Bottle club license
Sec. 24: Caterer license
Sec. 25: Caterer license
Sec. 26: Annual special event license
Sec. 27: Special event license
Sec. 28: Hotel beverage license
Sec. 29: Hotel beverage license
Sec. 30: Airline/railroad beverage license
Sec. 31: Airline/railroad beverage license
Sec. 32: Wholesaler's agent license
Sec. 33: Employee license; can work in licensed package store, retail spirits, retail wine or retail beer establishment, brew pub, mixed beverage establishment, beer and wine establishment, bottle club, public event or any establishment where alcohol or alcoholic beverage are sold, mixed or served; must be at least 18 years old.
Sec. 34: Industrial license
Sec. 35: Carrier license
Sec. 36: Private carrier license
Sec. 37: Bonded warehouse license
Sec. 38: Storage license
Sec. 39: Sacramental wine supplier license
Sec. 40: On-premises beer and wine license
Sec. 41: Charitable auction or charitable alcoholic beverage event license
Sec. 42: Mixed beverage/caterer combination license
Sec. 43: Small farm winery license
Sec. 44: Brewpub license; can manufacture, bottle, package and store beer on premises; can sell beer to distributor; can sell beer for on- or off-premise consumption to consumers on the brewery premises, or premises located contiguous thereto; can sell beer at trade shows or festivals; also can hold a mixed beverage license, beer and wine license or caterer's license; can hold a brewpub self-distribution license.
Sec. 45: Licensing, laws, ABLE Commission
Sec. 46: Additional hours license; can serve alcohol from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Sec. 47: Licensing, rules for out-of-state alcoholic beverages
Sec. 48: Manufacturer's agent license
Sec. 49: Licensing rules
Sec. 50: Licensing/purchsing rules
Sec. 51: Licensing; proximity to churches and schools (300 feet); colleges or universities may waive requirement in certain circumstances; listing certain exceptions
Sec. 52: Annual personal use permit; can make, store, possess and transport for personal use beer, fermented non-distilled ciders and wine; total volume of each beverage made and possessed shall be less than 200 gallons; beverages cannot be sold or offered for sale.
Sec. 53: Publishing intent to apply for license
Sec. 54: Licesning rules
Sec. 55: License application process
Sec. 56: License application process
Sec. 57: Licensing rules
Sec. 58: Licensing rules
Sec. 59: Licensing rules
Sec. 60: Licensing rules
Sec. 61: Licensing denial
Sec. 62: Licensing denail, recourse
Sec. 63: ABLE Commission hearings
Sec. 64: Appeal of ABLE Commission order
Sec. 65: Licensing rules
Sec. 66: Display of licenses in conspicuous place
Sec. 67: Transfer of licenses
Sec. 68: Retail spirit license; no person may own any interest in more than two package stores; retail spirit license holder shall be permitted to sell at retail any item that may be purchased at a grocery store or convenience store, except for petroleum products, so long as such sales do not comprise more than 20 percent of the holder's monthly sales.
Sec. 69: Winemaker, small farm winery distribution, sales
Sec. 70: Suspending licenses due to natural disaster, civil disturbance
Sec. 71: General rules
Sec. 72: Packaging, labeling rules
Sec. 73: General, licensing rules
Sec. 74: Defining a keg; establishing rules for sale, return of kegs
Sec. 75: Out-of-state wine shipments
Sec. 76: Direct wine shipper's permit
Sec. 77: Sales and distribution of beer; written distributor agreements between manufacturers and distributors designating specific territories within which distributors may sell designated brands
Sec. 78: Beer distribution rules; manufacturer must enter into agreement with independent licensed distributor; can have only one licensed distributor for each designated sales territory; low-point beer distribtion; distribution of brand extensions (low-point beer changed to full-strength beer); establishing compensation/fair-market value rates for distributors losing distribution rights; allowing low-point manufacturers to continue distributing low-point beer in two territories pending future legislative action
Sec. 79: Distribution rules
Sec. 80: Distribution rules
Sec. 81: Terminating a distribution agreement
Sec. 82: Operation and maintenance of a brewpub
Sec. 83: Small brewer; choosing to use distributor or self-distribute to retailers; can sell directly to consumers if holding a brewpub license; can serve samples of beer between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m.
Sec. 84: Retailers and brewpubs authorized to sell beer for off-premise consumption; must sell beer in package/container it was received in
Sec. 85: Beer distributor may withdraw beer for quality control purposes
Sec. 86: Manufacture/sale/distribution rules
Sec. 87: Retailer; sale of alcoholic beverage with promotional items
Sec. 88: Retail alcohol sales; cannot be sold for less than 6 percent mark-up; some exceptions
Sec. 89: Relationship between certain license holders and retailers
Sec. 90: Relationship between certain license holders and package stores, manufacturers and wholesalers
Sec. 91: Relationship between certain license holders
Sec. 92: Interactive entertainment facility rules
Sec. 93: Preventing discrimination in alcoholic beverage prices
Sec. 94: Sale of alcoholic beverages by the individual drink for on-premise consumption
Sec. 95: Prohibition of some alcohol sales between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Sec. 96: Prohibition of some alcohol sales between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Sec. 97: Bottle club rules
Sec. 98: Rights of municipalities to enact certain ordinances
Sec. 99: Rights of municipalities/counties to suspend/revoke licenses
Sec. 100: Rights of municipalities/counties to create new zoning classifications
Sec. 101: Rights of municipalities to levy occupational tax
Sec. 102: Rights of counties to levy occupational tax
Sec. 103: Duty of entities to enforce OABCA
Sec. 104: Levy/imposition of excise tax
Sec. 105: Excise tax rules
Sec. 106: Excise tax exemptions/conditions
Sec. 107: Revenue from excise tax; general fund; revolving funds
Sec. 108: Gross receipt tax
Sec. 109: Gross receipt tax; general fund
Sec. 110: Mixed beverage tax permit; Oklahoma Tax Commission
Sec. 111: Tax reporting rules
Sec. 112: Oklahoma Tax Commission; stamps; excise tax
Sec. 113: Payment of excise tax by brewer or beer distributor
Sec. 114: Wholesaler/distributor reports to Oklahoma Tax Commission
Sec. 115: Wholesaler/distributor permits
Sec. 116: Wholesaler/distributor permits
Sec. 117: Remedy/penalty for tax evasion/avoidance
Sec. 118: Examination of licensed premises by ABLE, Oklahoma Tax Commission
Sec. 119: Seizure of alcoholic beverage upon which taxes have not been paid
Sec. 120: Sale of seized alcoholic beverages
Sec. 121: Penalty for possession of certain alcoholic beverages
Sec. 122: Sale/shipment/delivery of certain alcoholic beverage in packages
Sec. 123: Record-keeping requirements
Sec. 124: Non-resident seller reporting requirements
Sec. 125: Manufacturer reporting requirements
Sec. 126: Alcoholic beverage transport reporting requirements
Sec. 127: Tax liability rules
Sec. 128: Reporting requirements
Sec. 129: Record-keeping requirements
Sec. 130: County excise board; revenue projection estimates
Sec. 131: State treasury; control fund; revolving fund
Sec. 132: State treasury; revolving fund
Sec. 133: Labeling rules
Sec. 134: Labeling rules
Sec. 135: Labeling rules
Sec. 136: Refilling containers; infusing drinks
Sec. 137: Tax liability rules
Sec. 138: Reporting requirements
Sec. 139: Tax rules
Sec. 140: Possession of contraband alcoholic beverages
Sec. 141: Illegal sale, delivery or furnishment of alcoholic beverages
Sec. 142: General rules for licensees
Sec. 143: Rules for retail spirits, retail wine and retail beer license holders; sales must occur between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m., Monday through Sunday; not permitted on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day; can be permitted to sell on election days; no retail spirits licensee shall allow any person younger than 21 into the premises, unless accompanied by a person who it at least 21 years old.
Sec. 144: Rules for wholesaler licensees
Sec. 145: General rules for licensees
Sec. 146: Rules for bottle club licensees
Sec. 147: Rules for special event or caterer licensees
Sec. 148: Rules for retail wine or retail beer licensees
Sec. 149: General rules for licensees
Sec. 150: General rules
Sec. 151: Public safety/law enforcement rules
Sec. 152: Rules on erasing/destroying serial numbers/labels required by OABCA
Sec. 153: Operating without a license
Sec. 154: Rules prohibiting those younger than 21 from an enclosed or separate lounge or bar area
Sec. 155: Operating a whiskey still or distilling without a license
Sec. 156: Filing false tax documents
Sec. 157: Engaging in activity, acts or transactions with license
Sec. 158: Illegal purchase, sale or delivery of alcoholic beverages
Sec. 159: Penalty for misrepresenting age in order to obtain alcoholic beverages
Sec. 160: Penalty for selling or furnishing alcohol to underaged persons
Sec. 161: Penalty for selling or furnishing alcohol to an insane, mentally deficient or intoxicated person
Sec. 162: Rule on payment of U.S. liquor dealer tax
Sec. 163: Rule on package stores selling alcoholic beverage at improper times
Sec. 164: Rule on licensee permitting a person to be drunk or intoxicated on licensee's premises
Sec. 165: Rule on general violation of OABCA
Sec. 166: Law enforcement rules
Sec. 167: Rules on search warrants, seizures
Sec. 168: Rules on investigation, law enforcement, procurement of records
Sec. 169: Repealer
Sec. 170-195: Recodification
Sec. 196: Provisions of the act are severable
Sec. 197: The act shall only become effective upon passage of SJR 68
Sec. 198: Section 4 of the act shall become effective Oct. 1, 2017; sections 1 through 3 and 5 through 195 shall become effective Oct. 1, 2018.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Full-strength brewery sales a reality by July 1?

It's not all the way there yet, but the dream legislative achievement for Oklahoma's craft brewers could become a reality by July 1 of this year.

An amended version of Senate Bill 424 was filed this week showing that on May 3, a Senate committee signed off on the measure, recommending that the bill's enacting clause be restored and that the committee's substitute language be accepted.

A key portion of the substitute language is a section calling for the measure to go into effect on July 1, 2016.

SB 424 is important to craft brewers because it would allow the holder of a brewer license "to sell beer produced by the licensee to consumers twenty-one (21) years of age or older on the premises of the brewery," according to the bill. Sales could only be conducted between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.

In everyday terms, the bill appears to put Oklahoma's craft brewers on similar ground to the state's winemakers -- allowed to sell their full-strength products to customers straight out of the brewery.

The bill does not appear to make a distinction between sales for on- or off-premise consumption, although I have sent a query to Sen. Brian Crain, one of bill's authors, on that point. That obviously is a key consideration when it comes to growler fills.

SB 424 now goes to the House Committee on Alcohol, Tobacco and Controlled Substances; I heard from one source that that committee may take up the bill on Monday.

From there, it would need to be approved by the full Senate and House, and then it would head to the governor's desk.

I've mentioned this point many times, but several craft brewers have told me over the years about how difficult it is to make money and grow their breweries in the state's current retail structure. Many have said that on-premise sales would be a game-changer.

You could foresee SB 424 opening the door for special brewery-only releases. At the least, it would allow brewers to share their full line-up of offerings with visitors, and it will likely encourage the opening of several new breweries or brew pubs.

(As a side note, it appears to me it would allow Belle Isle Brewery, Bricktown Brewery and Royal Bavaria to be able to produce and sell full-strength beer if they so choose, as opposed to the low-point offerings they create now. But don't quote me on that.)

I'll try to stay on top of this as it progresses from here, and stay tuned to the blog for some upcoming coverage of Senate Bill 383, as well.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Dispatches from the road: Part 2

Yesterday I shared with you Part 1 of the Craft Brewers Conference recap from Marshall Brewing's Wes Alexander.

Today, I bring you Part 2, where Alexander digs into the state of the country's craft beer union.

Give it a read:

Readers Note: While my first report was fairly flowery, filled with experiences of visiting breweries and experiencing wonderful hospitality, the conference itself dealt with industry issues. Some may find this reading a bit dry as it is driven by facts and conjecture. If you have trouble getting through the report, pour yourself a craft beer. Still having trouble? Repeat as necessary. Cheers!

The Craft Brewers Conference officially began Wednesday, May 4th in the Pennsylvania Convention Center with the opening address offered by Bob Pease, CEO of the Brewers Association. Pease advised that there were more than 13,000 conference attendees. A stark contrast to the 2,000 attendees just a decade ago in Seattle at CBC.

In his State of the Union-style address, Pease offered that the top mission of the Brewers Association and craft brewers was to change the culture of the beer drinkers in our nation. Mission accomplished. 

“Small brewers are job-creating machines in small local markets,” Pease declared, demonstrating that craft beer was now highly visible and an economic engine across the U.S. Pease went on to further caution craft brewers that while we have grown and strengthened our industry significantly, we must not rest on our laurels. In his final thought, the CEO opined that “mega brewers” were working to become “ultra mega brewers” through acquisitions and seeking to limit access of craft brewers to market and ingredients. Pease promised the Brewers Association would fight for fairness for small brewers.

Next up was Brewers Association Chairman of the Board Rob Tod of Allagash Brewing. 

“Today with members from small and large brewers our board is truly representative of our industry,” Tod explained as a few board members from larger craft breweries transition out due to term limits. Seats are also being vacated by members that are acquired, such as Devil’s Backbone with their recent sale to AB Inbev.

Craft matters

The Brewers Association does not define what a craft beer is, rather defines what a craft brewer is. It is ultimately up to craft beer lovers to define craft beer. The purpose of defining a “craft brewer” is to know who to protect from threats and promote as small, independent and traditional.

Tod extolled: “Craft is about who brews the beer.” This echoes sentiments that we have felt growing in the industry over the past several years as the quality of the beer available across the country has risen significantly. With this, we are hearing consumers choosing beers based on the personalities of the brewers they prefer to support.

Tod’s final thoughts on craft matters are rolled out with his use of the term “indie craft beer.” A phrase crafted to remind consumers that some of their favorite breweries have been acquired by mega brewers, and though their beer may be considered craft, their ownership decidedly isn’t.

So why is this such a big deal? Mega brewers have been working to limit access to ingredients, materials, and the marketplace. While mega brewer acquisitions of previously held “craft brewers” offer those acquired companies increased access and a distinctive advantage, the real threat comes in the tactics used to do so.

Simply put, the mega brewers do not play fair. The choice is in the consumers hands as to who they choose to support. Tod, and many others hope that choice is “indie craft beer.”

State of the industry

Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, opened his address in a somber mood and announced the theme for the 2016 State of the industry offers “mixed news,” before handing the presentation to Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association. Watson began by proclaiming, “The American beer market is the most innovate and creative market in the world.”

Craft beer growth

2015: Craft beer share of the market in terms of dollars = 21%

2015: Craft beer share of the market in terms of volume = 12%

In 2015, growth in craft beer slowed from 18% to 13% over the previous year. A contributing factor relating to the slowed growth is that craft has grown to the point where significant growth means adding a ridiculous amount of production and sales to keep pace. 

In 2015, craft beer added 2.8 million barrels sold. The outcome is that while growth slows, year-over-year the volume is increasing. A positive and healthy sign. Another factor affecting growth is the loss of several craft brewers through acquisitions moving their volume outside of the craft beer umbrella.

Warning signs

While craft beer looks healthy with significant growth in the number of breweries opening and growing, and increased access to consumers, there are still concerns for the future.

2012: 2,100 craft brewers

2015: 4,400 craft brewers (6,000 TTB licensed brewers... More are coming soon.)

More than doubling the number of breweries in a few short years has lead to only 2% growth of volume. Are we cannibalizing ourselves? Are we introducing new folks to craft beer? These questions will remain unanswered for now. However, the growth in the number of breweries forces brewers to continue to stay focused on improving quality and innovation. Finally, as craft beer drinkers, we relish selection. More brewers equals more selection.

Concerning trends

“People getting into craft that don’t care enough about the beer as they do the business,” Gatza said. This is a huge concern moving forward as craft has all the attention of the beverage industry. Attracting investors and banks is easier than it has ever been, harking to a time in the 90s before the dot-com bubble. 

Access to market

The sheer number of breweries and brands is straining the wholesale and retail system. Where most brands historically have found their way to market, it is no longer a guarantee. Distribution channels are clogged and AB Inbev is threatening to squeeze craft beer out of their tied distribution houses.

Reason for optimism

-“Customers love craft," Watson said. "Customers will defend craft from those that try to threaten our ranks.” 

-Demand is on our side. Craft beer drinkers understand and demand craft beer. This simple fact cannot be overlooked in the face of access to market concerns. 

-Craft beer is driven by demographics. Each year drinkers come of age during the craft beer revolution, we gain craft drinkers for life.

-Craft beer means local highly valued manufacturing jobs. Craft brewers employ more than 120,000 folks with manufacturing jobs.

Final thoughts

Acquisition was on the tongues of most people at the 2016 Craft Brewers Conference. Acquisition is tough to see as a brewer and for craft beer lovers alike as it creates an emotional response. Paul Gatza remarked that the news of some acquisitions made him feel “crappy.” The good news is, that as consumers you have a choice, and many of them. Choose to support independent craft brewers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Dispatches from the road: Wes Alexander recaps the Craft Brewers Conference

Every year, about this time of year, a delegation of Oklahoma brewers and craft beer industry members make their way to the national Craft Brewers Conference. This year was no different.

And once again, also in somewhat of an annual tradition, Marshall Brewing Co.'s director of sales and marketing Wes Alexander offered to serve as Oklahoma's in-the-field correspondent.

Alexander has penned a pair of posts from his visit to this year's conference in Philadelphia.

Here's Part 1:

Each year that Marshall Brewing has been in business, nearly eight now, we have attended the Craft Brewers Conference. This traveling conference offers seminars and a trade show, BrewExpo America, with 800 vendors offering everything from brewhouses to plastic cups. 

This year the Craft Brewers Conference was held in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, May 3rd through May 6th, with more than 13,000 in attendance.

The last several years we have been left in awe at the growth in the sheer number of attendees at the conference. Our first year was Boston, 2009. Announced attendance at that conference was in the range of 3,500. Floor space for BrewExpo America was in the thousands of square feet and is now tens of thousand square feet with 235 more exhibitors than 2015. Kudos to the Brewers Association for organizing the ever-important industry event.

We arrived in Philly mid-day Sunday at the invitation of our industry friend, a fellow brewery owner, Tom Clark. Tom is an industry veteran who supplied us with our current bottling equipment and spent a good amount of time with us in Tulsa installing and calibrating the system. A few years ago, Tom moved to Berwick to take the reigns at brewpub in Berwick, Pa.

Berwick is a picturesque two-hour drive north of Philadelphia, in an area we later heard described as “Pennsyltucky,” or Kentucky right in the middle of Pennsylvania. Indeed the imagery was reminiscent of the Blue Ridge Mountains replete with heavy fog.

Berwick Brewing is set on the banks of the Susquehanna River and is housed in a building that had been a historic production bakery. The Berwick Brewing event was a fine example of the hospitality that is renowned amongst craft brewers, complete with a wide variety of beer from local brewers, food lovingly prepared by Tom’s staff, and a warm, dry place to sleep. 

Upon entering the event Eric Marshall was immediately pulled on stage for a photo op with local brewers that appeared the next day in the local Berwick newspaper. If you are ever in the area, say hello to our great friends at Berwick Brewing and plan on a few pints of Hondo or Smoke Session and some delicious pizza.

Monday we relocated to Eric’s old stomping ground of Downington, Pa. Ten years ago as Eric returned from brewing school and apprenticeships in Germany, he landed a job with Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown. For over a year Eric gained valuable information working for Victory and making lasting friendships. Victory was hosting an industry event Monday celebrating their 20-year anniversary and offering tours of their recently opened brewing facility in Parkesburg. 

Victory knows how to throw a party. Live music, a roasted pig, booths offering traditional German dishes, beer, more beer, and an extensive look at their beautiful brewery and details of their processes. Of particular note was a brewery only release of Brett Pilsner and the Shweinshaxe, a pork knuckle braised tender then fried to crisp the skin. I could not stop talking about the Schweinshaxe being the best singular dish I had eaten to date in 2016.

Tuesday we visited Victory’s original facility in Downingtown for lunch and a brewery tour before heading to Philadelphia to prepare for the conference. Pottsville, home of Yuengling, America’s oldest brewery, ended up on the scenic route to Philly. A tour of the their brewery, which is literally built into the side of a mountain with lager caves, was inspiring and educational. Yuengling drips with regional pride and history and offers a glimpse into brewery life as far back as 1876.

Stay tuned to for more information from the Craft Brewers Conference to include a recap of the State of the Union.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Oklahoma beer roundup: OCBF tix on sale now

There sure is a lot going on with the Oklahoma craft beer scene in the next few weeks. Let's take a look at all the news that's fit to print!

-Tickets are now on sale for the Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival, which this year has been spread over two days for the first time. There will be a Friday night session on June 17, and then two sessions on Saturday, June 18. There was some dismay when people purchasing tickets online discovered some rather high ticketing fees. Organizers posted this blog to help sort out the issue.

-The Oklahoma Supreme Court this week invalidated the alcohol law reform initiative petition filed by the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma. The court found that the petition's written summary "fails to alert potential signatories of the changes being made to the law and does not provide potential signatories with sufficient information to make an informed decision about the true nature" of the measure. You can read more here.

-No news to report on SJR 68 or SB 424 as of early Thursday morning. Both of those are pending hearings/discussions in various committees. There does appear to be some noise on SB 383, however. I'm hearing that the revised version of the bill -- possibly to the tune of roughly 300 pages -- was circulated to legislators and key insiders on Wednesday. It may be released publicly in a matter of days.

-The annual McNellie's-OKC Pub Run is this Saturday. You can learn more and sign up here.

-Oak & Ore is holding a tap takeover for the latest out-of-state brewery to hit the market thanks to broker Craft & Barrel -- Destihl Brewery out of Illinois. The event is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 11. More info here.

-On May 16, McNellie's-South Tulsa is holding its own Destihl night. You can read about that here. And then Fassler Hall-Tulsa is hopping on the Destihl train with a beer dinner set for May 18.

-Roughtail is hosting a brewery yoga session on Saturday, May 14.

-The Patriarch has added new beers and updated information for its anniversary week celebration, which is coming up next week.

-Pub W-Memorial Road has a series of events planned for American Craft Beer Week, including beers from Amager/Jester King, Prairie, Anthem, 405, Destihl, Goose Island and COOP. I hope to have more info on this coming up soon on the blog.

-Iron Star Urban Barbecue is hosting a Founders beer dinner and tap takeover at 6 p.m. on May 24, featuring five beers and four courses. The price is $47, and tix are available by calling Iron Star at (405) 524-5925. More info available here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Oak & Ore to launch updated menu with Founders beer dinner

Oak & Ore this week announced plans to celebrate the upcoming American Craft Beer Week, and they'll kick things off by unveiling an updated menu during a Founders Beer Dinner featuring the much-sought-after Canadian Breakfast Stout.

Here are the details from an Oak & Ore news release:

To kick off a six-event celebration of American Craft Beer Week, Oak & Ore will host a private, five-course beer dinner pairing select items from its updated menu with beers from Founders Brewing Co., including the acclaimed Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS). 

The dinner will take place on Sunday, May 15 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Each attendee will receive a limited-edition Founders CBS/Oak & Ore glass. A portion of proceeds from the evening will go to benefit the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma Backpack Program. The program provides chronically hungry children with backpacks full of non-perishable, nutritious, kid-friendly, shelf-stable food for weekends and school holidays.

“Chef Eric Adams has been working on some great new menu items that we are excited to feature during this special Founders Beer Dinner,” Oak & Ore owner Micah Andrews said. “We’ve been holding onto the world-famous Canadian Breakfast Stout for a special occasion, and it’s perfect for kicking off both American Craft Beer Week and our new menu. We also couldn’t be more excited to give to the Food Bank’s Backpack program, which is such a simple and beneficial way to help keep schoolkids from going hungry.”

Customers can sign up for the beer dinner by emailing The cost of the beer dinner is $50 (tax and gratuity excluded).

Oak & Ore will hold a total of six beer events during American Craft Beer Week, May 15-22, highlighting breweries from all over the United States.

“We get so many great beers from outside of Oklahoma, many of which have inspired our local brewers,” Andrews said. “We wanted to focus on some brands from across the nation during 
American Craft Beer Week, and then we’ll do a similar focus in June with all Oklahoma breweries during Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week. We will have a bunch of really rare and interesting beers during each event, some of which we’ve been cellaring for over a year.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fun with comparisons: Oklahoma vs. Texas

"Did you know that SJR68 would result in about 340 local businesses closing and about 2000 people losing their job? It's true!"

The Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma posted that statement on its Facebook page on April 26. Sounds scary. By the RLAO's estimation, those 340 stores closing up shop would equate to a full 50 percent of all Oklahoma liquor stores going out of business.

I was curious how RLAO came to that number -- one they've repeated many times. So at the invitation of RLAO leader Bryan Kerr, I went to the website they created,, and specifically the "Economic Impact" portion of the site, to do some research. There you can see the basis of the argument.

First, you have to believe RLAO when they say that Senate Joint Resolution 68 would make Oklahoma like Texas in the way the state sells alcohol. (For what it's worth, several alcohol industry veterans have told me that, 1.) Texas has a three-tier distribution system not unlike that employed in numerous states around the country, and that 2.) SJR 68 would actually make Oklahoma more like Missouri, Arkansas and/or Kansas as far as alcohol distribution goes.)

But for the purpose of this exercise, let's assume SJR 68 makes Oklahoma just like Texas. With that established, read this portion from their website:

"In Texas, they have only 1 liquor store for every 10,800 people. In Oklahoma, we have 1 for every 5,600 people. Simple math shows us that overlaying the Texas model in Oklahoma results in nearly half of all local retail package stores going out of business."

The "simple math" goes like this: If Texas has one liquor store for every 10,800 people, and SJR 68 makes Oklahoma just like Texas, then by default Oklahoma would have one liquor store for every 10,800 people. How many liquor stores do you have get rid of in Oklahoma to leave us with one store for every 10,800 people? Roughly 340.

Doesn't that seem likely highly presumptive and circular reasoning?

But let's move on to another portion of the "Economic Impact" argument.

There WAS a portion of the website comparing the number of liquor stores in Carter County, Oklahoma, with those in Lamar County, Texas. Both counties have a population of roughly 50,000, so I suppose you can say it's a like comparison. I can tell you the RLAO website said there are 12 liquor stores in Carter County and only two in Lamar County.

Why so many more liquor stores in Carter County? The RLAO would tell you it's because of Texas' screwy alcohol distribution system.

But you can't read about the Carter/Lamar comparison any more. Why? The RLAO took the comparison down and replaced it with new information after I pointed out to Kerr something interesting about the comparison.

Lamar County has only two liquor stores because it's a partially dry county. That's one of the funny things about comparing Oklahoma and Texas -- Texas does have some screwy alcohol rules. In Texas, your county, city or court jurisdiction can fall into one of four categories: Totally dry; totally wet; partially dry with the sale of only low-point beer allowed; or partially dry with the sale of beer or wine of no more than 14% ABV allowed.

So in three out of four possibilities, you can't sell liquor for off-premise consumption. I may be crazy, but I would say you would never open a liquor store in a situation like that.

Texas has 254 counties. Only 53 are totally wet. Seven are completely dry. The remaining 194 fall somewhere in the middle, as of November 2015 (most recent data available).

Like in Lamar County, on the Oklahoma-Texas border. In four cities in the county, you're not allowed to sell alcohol at all. In the county's biggest city, Paris, you're not allowed to sell distilled spirits for off-premise consumption.

Kerr admitted that if Lamar were totally wet, the county may add "two or three" liquor stores. I would argue they'd add two or three in Paris alone. And probably one in each of the totally dry cities.

By my math, that would add up to seven liquor stores in Lamar County. Imagine that math carried out over the rest of the 201 totally or partially dry counties. For example, in Dallas County, you can't sell liquor for off-premise consumption in all or parts of the cities of Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Combine, Coppell, Desoto, Duncanville, Farmers Branch, Ferris, Garland, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Irving, Lancaster, Mesquite, Ovilla, Sachse, Seagoville, Sunnyvale, University Park or Wylie.

I think it's pretty easy to see why saying Texas has 10,800 people for every liquor store is actually fairly irrelevant to Oklahoma. And if that's how you're figuring how many Oklahoma liquor stores will go out of business as a result of SJR 68, I think you need to find a new set of numbers to base your assumption on.

Regardless, Kerr told me he thought the Carter/Lamar comparison was still relevant. This even after admitting the comparison wasn't "100% accurate." Kerr also told me he worried I would misrepresent his position. So, let me avoid that by quoting him word-for-word:

Me: "Do you think your comparison of Carter to Lamar county is a relevant comparison, considering Lamar is partly dry?"

Kerr: "I don't think it's 100% accurate but I think it's fair and I certainly think it's relevant for several reasons."

So, to get this straight: It's not 100 percent accurate, but that was good enough to post it on your website and tout it as fact?

And it's fair and relevant, but perhaps not fair and relevant enough to leave up on your website once you were questioned about it?

In the words of the RLAO, "It's true!"