The Thirsty Beagle: Finally! AG's SB 424 opinion a win for craft beer

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Finally! AG's SB 424 opinion a win for craft beer

I will argue, first and foremost, that we never should have gotten to this point.

Senate Bill 424 was passed and it was fine. Until the ABLE Commission inexplicably said it wasn't. Twice.

At least the second time, they had the good sense to ask someone else to figure out this apparently incredibly complex scenario.

Thus the matter landed in the lap of the state attorney general, who today opined that SB 424 does exactly what we all thought it should do -- allow Oklahoma's craft brewers to sell their full-strength beer by the glass in their breweries. Come Friday, our brewers can run true taprooms.

The reaction from the craft beer community today was universally joyous. Marshall Brewing Co. brewmaster Eric Marshall had this to say:

"This is a big day for craft brewers and more importantly for craft beer drinkers and the people of Oklahoma. This is a monumental step forward and we are excited to have an avenue to further develop the craft beer culture in Oklahoma. A big thank you to the legislature, the attorney general, ABLE, the Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma and the concerned citizens. Cheers!"

As for the attorney general, Scott Pruitt had this to say:

"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."

You can read the full opinion here. I did have some favorite parts.

"If the language is plain and clearly expresses the legislative will, further inquiry is unnecessary."

And then this:

"The provision unambiguously authorizes sales of beer on the premises of the brewery to consumers, and does not restrict the location in which consumers may consume that beer."

And let's not forget this:

"Had the Legislature intended to limit the location of consumption of the beer that is sold, it could have said so, just as it has done in neighboring provisions."

And one of my besties:

"Given that the Legislature knows how to include words of limitation, but chose not to, we conclude that the Legislature intended no such limitation."

I guess I'll have to let it go at some point, but I'm still a little perplexed as to how ABLE failed to discern the intent of the bill. I blogged that sentiment last night, arguing pretty much along the lines of what Pruitt said today.

The intent of the bill, to me, to the AG, and to a lot of people, was always pretty clear. Why ABLE thought they needed to read some unexplained intent into the bill is beyond me.

But, I digress.

We are moving forward, and it's starting on Friday. Roughtail, COOP, Elk Valley/Mustang, Twisted Spike, Marshall, Dead Armadillo, Iron Monk, Anthem and American Solera are all planning events of some stature.

Things are about to get really exciting for Oklahoma craft beer fans.

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