The Thirsty Beagle: Full-strength brewery sales a reality by July 1?

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.


  1. For commercial breweries... It's a good step forward for sure. But, the 9pm shut off for full strength will continue to be a pain for Brewpubs like Belle Isle, The BrewHouse Bricktown Brewery and any others that may want to start business. They would have to tell customers we can't serve full strength beer after 9? Not complaining just trying to see how this will affect the brewpubs too.

    1. Randy, that's a good thought. Like I said in the post, it's not 100 percent clear to me what impact the bill will have on existing low-point brewpubs, but it's worth investigating a little more for sure.