The Thirsty Beagle: August 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

SQ 791 won't make November election ballot

After thinking at one point earlier this year that we may end up with four or five alcohol-related items on the November election ballot, we are now down to just one.

State Election Board officials on Monday said the window for adding state questions to the general election ballot is now closed. The ballots -- if they are not already -- will be on their way to the printer by Tuesday.

That means State Question 792, known earlier as Senate Joint Resolution 68, will be the only alcohol measure on the ballot.

The final remaining competitor for a spot on the ballot was State Question 791, which had been proposed by some of the state's liquor store owners. With the deadline to have the ballots printed having arrived, proponents have not turned in the signatures needed to get the petition on the ballot.

Moving forward, this may not be the last you hear of the proposition known as SQ 791. Proponents started collecting signatures on Aug. 2 and according to the Secretary of State, they have until 5 p.m. Oct. 31 to continue to collect signatures.

If they get the nearly 124,000 signatures required to get a Constitutional amendment on the ballot, they could then look toward a later election. Or they could request a special election, although the costs for that would be prohibitive and in the state's current budget situation, it's unlikely the governor would sign off.

So what about SQ 792? If voters approve the measure in November, that will amend the portion of the Oklahoma constitution dealing with alcohol laws and in turn activate Senate Bill 383, which spells out much of the new alcohol landscape in statute.

The SQ 792/SB 383 combo, if approved, would go into effect in October 2018. In the meantime...

We had some other legislation go into effect recently. You may have heard about Senate Bill 424?

Yes, the brewery sales bill went into effect on Friday, and by all accounts the day was received quite warmly.

Every craft brewery in the Oklahoma City area was jam-packed with beer fans. I had a chance to make it out to Roughtail, and people were lined up out the door in a thunderstorm to buy a pint or fill their growler. (Not exaggerating about the thunderstorm, as anyone who was there can attest.) Customer after customer walked out of the brewery with cases of canned beer. (Also not exaggerating.) One can only assume Roughtail made an absolute killing on Friday night.

And I assume the same can be said of the other breweries as well. Based on social media accounts and a few conversations I've had after the fact, it appears a safe bet. The challenge now will be sustaining that kind of momentum when the shine of SB 424 begins to wear off.

I think we've already seen what the strategy will be. Both Roughtail and American Solera made brewery-only bottles or cans. I even noticed Roughtail's Paternalism and Oats N' Ho's (enjoying one of those right now) did not have bar codes on them.

Another brewer told me they are scheduling out brewery-only draft releases featuring special variants of one or more of their mainline beers. Clearly that will be the strategy to watch -- brewers will need to continue to give consumers a good reason to get out to the brewery.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Prohibition ends in Oklahoma, again

Mark this day down on your calendars, beer fans.

Aug. 26, 2016: The day Prohibition ended in Oklahoma, again.

It's hard to imagine we've finally made it to this point, where our craft brewers can sell all their beers to their consumers right out of the brewery. And it's even more difficult to overstate what a big deal this is.

Remember what today looks like -- well, what yesterday looked like, really -- because Oklahoma's craft beer scene won't look like this for long. I've said for some time now, with Senate Bill 424 in effect, we're set to embark on a period of rapid growth and development.

As of the most recent ABLE Commission report, Oklahoma has 11 brick-and-mortar breweries licensed to produce and sell full-strength beer. Within a few months, that number will likely jump to 15, thanks to known breweries-in-planning.

Within a year? We could be above 20. Within 10 years? Who says it wouldn't be 40 or 50?

We should see the return of the neighborhood brewery. That's a concept that was immensely popular prior to Prohibition, but was all but killed off all across the country.

The neighborhood brewery has crept back into existence and proliferated in states with welcoming beer laws. Now SB 424 puts Oklahoma on the runway, with takeoff imminent.

I guess in Oklahoma we liked the end of Prohibition so much, we decided to do it twice.

And while it's important to tip our cap to some of the legislators who helped us get here -- Sen. Stephanie Bice and Sen. Brian Crain most notably -- I think the people who are really responsible are the people who now will benefit the most from SB 424.

I tip my hat especially to the Hueberts, Chocs, Marshalls, Roughtails, COOPs, Anthems and Mustangs of the world.

These guys started breweries when the idea of starting a full-strength production brewery in Oklahoma was actually a pretty bad business decision. They've been charging ahead, fighting strongly in a restrictive model, where they sent their products out into the big world to make pennies on the dollar.

It would have been a lot easier to make a better living in any number of other ventures, no doubt.

So why did they do it? Pretty simple, really: For the love of beer.

It's clear to me that the main reason we arrived at Aug. 26, 2016, is because the brewers loved beer and took the chance to blaze a trail where none existed prior.

And now those pioneers of the Oklahoma craft beer scene are being rewarded for that love, for their perseverance and for their dedication to the craft.

When the clock hits 4:24 p.m. today, raise your glass. Let's toast a good beer made by good, hard-working Oklahomans.

Cheers, Oklahoma.

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.

Monday, August 22, 2016

ABLE buck-passing may be for the best

In case anyone's counting, it's only four days away from Aug. 26 now.

That's the day we're supposed to be able to get full-strength beer by the glass at local small breweries. I mean, if you read Senate Bill 424, you'd think we're supposed to get it.

I feel like I've cited the portion of the bill relevant to craft brewers like 300 times, but following the ABLE Commission's analysis paralysis last week, here we go again.

The bill clearly states licensed brewers are allowed:

"...to sell beer produced by the licensee to consumers twenty-one (21) years of age or older on the premises of the brewery..."

And that:

"Samples and sales may only be distributed or consumed between 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m."

What am I missing? Where is the ambiguous language that has stupefied the ABLE Commission? Why is it that one of the bill's co-authors can explicitly tell the ABLE Commission that the intent of the bill is to allow on-premise consumption, yet commission leaders can still say the intent isn't clear?

It's in plain English: Samples and sales may be distributed or consumed between 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. 

Samples AND sales. Distributed OR CONSUMED. It's right there in the language of the bill.

As ABLE was unable to either read or comprehend what appears to be plain language, the matter now rests in the hands of the state's attorney general, tasked by ABLE with interpreting the bill. The AG's office stated on Friday that they would expedite review of the bill and provide an interpretation prior to the go-live date on Friday. 

One way or another, we'll find something out in the next couple days. There are several options in terms of where this goes from here.

1. AG says brewers can sell by the glass, everyone is happy and Oklahoma enters a period of rapid commercial/retail/tourism expansion and development.

2. AG says no sales by the glass. Brewers can still sell by the package (bottles, cans, growlers) and that leads to...

3. Lawmakers use the 2017 legislative session to amend SB 424 and make it wholly unambiguous. Full-strength sales by the glass are allowed sometime next spring/summer, or...

4. Voters approve State Question 792 in November, activating Senate Bill 383, eliminating the state's dual-strength system and putting brewery pint sales into effect in October 2018.

So, do I think we'll get there one way or another, one day or another? Yes. But it shouldn't be this hard.

But let's talk about ABLE a little bit more. That agency has really put Oklahoma's craft brewers through the ringer here.

On July 24, I blogged that ABLE had expressed concern about the wording of the bill to the state's craft brewers. As several brewers told me, there was concern that ABLE believed sales by the glass were not authorized by SB 424. ABLE and the brewers were set to discuss the matter at a meeting set for July 25.

The brewers came out of that meeting believing that on-premise consumption would be allowed. In the weeks that followed, brewers began laying out plans for their celebrations of SB 424.

Last week, Marshall Brewing Co. announced formal plans for a big SB 424 bash. Marshall is one of the best -- if not the best -- politically connected breweries in the state. If they felt confident in ABLE's favorable interpretation of SB 424, you would figure it was a done deal.

So when brewers found out last Thursday that ABLE was aiming to deny by-the-glass sales, the mutual feelings in the industry were shock and devastation. Those are not emotions you feel when you're not confident things will go a certain way.

So why did the brewers feel so confident? If ABLE gave them reason to feel confident and then simply pulled the rug out at the proverbial last minute, then shame on the agency.

And for ABLE leadership to say on television last Friday that they had no idea brewers even were interested in on-premise consumption? It defies logic.

After all, the brewers met with ABLE representatives in July to discuss that very issue! What in the heck is going on at the ABLE Commission?

Maybe taking the decision out of their own hands actually is the best course of action.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Reversal: ABLE aims to block brewery pint sales

Just weeks after Oklahoma craft brewers believed they had won assurance they would be able to sell their full-strength beer by the glass at their breweries, the state ABLE Commission today delivered a devastating blow to the industry.

Representatives from the state's craft beer industry met with ABLE officials this afternoon, expecting to find resolution on the issue of sales of growlers of full-strength beer. 

Instead, brewers learned that ABLE had reversed course and intends to block the sale of full-strength beer by the glass. The brewers believed such sales would be allowed under Senate Bill 424, which was passed during the most recent legislative session and is set to go into effect on Aug. 26.

Brewers learned today that ABLE believes SB 424 actually does allow growler sales, and sales of bottles and cans, but only for off-premise consumption. The agency's interpretation of the bill suggests that on-premise consumption of full-strength beer -- by the glass, in other words -- is not allowed.

No formal rule has been issued by ABLE on this -- at this point it appears the news delivered to brewers today can only be construed as ABLE's intentions. And it remains unclear what recourse the brewers have. If a rule is formally issued, they may have the ability to challenge or appeal it.

In the interim, sources indicate that brewers will attempt to continue to negotiate with the commission in pursuit of a more favorable determination on SB 424.

One thing that is clear is the state's brewers felt assured by-the-glass sales would be cleared by ABLE. Several brewers had planned elaborate celebration events for Aug. 26; some of them have even begun morphing their business plans to cater to the new law. The announcement from Choc/Prairie of a new brewpub in Automobile Alley is just one example.

The fate of those events and those plans now seems up in the air.

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

UPDATE!

The Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma this evening released the following statement on the ABLE/SB 424 situation:

"We are disappointed in today's restrictive informal interpretation by the ABLE Commission relying on the Attorney General's office. The interpretation allows for brewers to sell 'to-go' beer only. 'To-go' beer can be packaged in growlers, six packs, and other original brewery packaging. Brewers will not be permitted to sell beer for consumption on premises, missing the original intent of SB 424 as passed by lawmakers."

Meanwhile, state lawmakers have also weighed in. State Rep. Emily Virgin responded to the controversy on Twitter today, saying "Incredibly disappointing development. Legislative intent to allow on-site consumption has always been clear."

And state Rep. Jason Dunnington said this on Twitter: "Looking into it. Fact is whatever the case we can adjust it legislatively."

Coincidentally, ABLE has a regularly scheduled meeting set for 10 a.m. Friday morning, at 3812 N Santa Fe, Suite 200. Representatives of the CBAO will be in attendance and will continue to attempt to work with ABLE toward a positive resolution.

You can see the agenda for the meeting here. Included are discussion points on State Question 792, Senate Bill 383, and "Discussion on Amendment to Title 37, Section 521(A)." In case you were wondering, Title 37, Section 521(A) is the same thing as SB 424. (Why did they not just call it SB 424 on the agenda?)

There's also a public comment period -- with a three-minute time limit -- so if you attend the meeting and line up to speak, keep it short and keep it classy.

So after a wild day, where do we go from here? Remember, brewers should still be able to sell bottles and cans (and growlers) from the brewery on Aug. 26, so Roughtail's plans for special can releases and American Solera's plans for special bottle release should proceed.

I have not received information on what will happen with all the taproom parties the breweries have scheduled. I think we'll need to wait on tomorrow's meeting, and then the brewers will likely have announcements to make.

One key thing to remember, meanwhile, is that SB 424 was never intended to be the cure for all that ails the state's craft brewers. It was only intended to bridge the gap until voters could (potentially) approve SQ 792, activate SB 383 and move Oklahoma into the post-Prohibition era come October 2018.

(And also remember what Dunnington said; legislators could attempt to make this right next spring in the 2017 legislative session.)

So, while a disruption of the intent of SB 424 is highly discouraging for the brewers, the move by ABLE is not the end of our craft beer industry.

It is disappointing because the brewers clearly were given the impression from ABLE that by-the-glass sales would be allowed, only to see the rug pulled out after they had started making plans and actually enacting business development.

And also disappointing because it could take an industry on the verge of massive development, and set it back by two years.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Marshall, COOP announce expanded OK Beer Day plans

With Oklahoma Beer Day now only nine days away, a pair of the founding fathers of the Oklahoma craft beer business have announced expanded plans for their celebrations.

Many breweries across the state will take part in festivities to mark Aug. 26 -- the day Senate Bill 424 goes into effect and allows Oklahoma's craft brewers to sell their full-strength beer, by the glass, to consumers straight out of the brewery.

On a side note, many people are still wondering about growler sales of full-strength beer, and whether or not the ABLE Commission will allow them to proceed. My sources tell me a decision from ABLE may be issued as soon as Thursday.

In the meantime, two state breweries are planning exciting events to commemorate Oklahoma Beer Day: Marshall Brewing Co. and COOP Ale Works.

Marshall recently announced its full line-up for plans, with its taproom open from noon to 8 p.m. on Aug. 26. From a brewery news release:

The brewery’s tap room, located at 618 S Wheeling, Tulsa, OK, will be able to offer guests strong beer for the first time in the history of Oklahoma. The celebration will feature a special line-up of limited release Marshall beers to including Double Tough IPA, Dunkel Lager, Kolsch, Klaus Hefeweizen, Wild Brew Double IPA and others. Jay’s Original Hoagie’s will be on hand for lunch and dinner service, while Desi & Cody perform live in the brew house.

Oklahoma Senate Bill 424 was signed by Governor Fallin on June 6, 2016, and officially takes effect August 26th. The measure corrected an inequity in direct sales to visiting consumers currently permitted in Oklahoma only by wineries.

“August 26th represents a significant milestone for Oklahoma brewers and craft beer fans. As brewers we have been unable to offer the beers that we sell at retail at our brewery. We are excited to not only be able to offer these beers to customers and tourists, but educate them about the production process and share the concept and inspiration behind the beers,” states director of sales and marketing, Wes Alexander. “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our local legislators, LOCAL and consumers that acted as advocates by contacting their legislators to solicit support for SB 424. We look forward to gathering with all parties to celebrate August 26th. Together, we changed the game.”

Meanwhile, COOP Ale Works is offering its strong beer, plus a drawing for a trip for two to the 2016 Great American Beer Festival.

Here's a news release from COOP:

Oklahoma City-based COOP Ale Works will host a celebration for the implementation of Senate Bill 424 at the COOP Taproom, Friday, August 26 from 4-8 pm. The event will also serve as the official launch of the Fall 2016 seasonal brew Oktoberfest.

Guests will have the opportunity to purchase full-strength beer directly from the brewery for the first time as a result of the legislation passed in the Oklahoma Legislature’s most recent session. Guests must be at least 21-years-old to attend any function at the COOP Taproom beginning August 26 as a result of the new law.

“Many breweries in other states have long had the right to serve their full beer selection to visitors,” said COOP Co-Founder Daniel Mercer. “The Oklahoma Legislature, The ABLE Commission and Governor Mary Fallin have helped our small businesses regain our competitive footing with out-of-state breweries by removing the previous restrictions.”

COOP has designed special glassware for the event. 50 guests will have the option to purchase a one-liter German Beer Boot emblazoned with the Oktoberfest logo and filled with Oktoberfest draft for $20. Another 100 guests will be able to purchase a one-liter Oktoberfest Tankard filled with Oktoberfest draft for $15. Guests will be able to keep the glassware.

“COOP Oktoberfest combines Munich malt, Bavarian hops and a traditional German yeast,” said Head Brewer Blake Jarolim. “This lager is really a symbol of the coming of Fall and is a style that our fans have loved for a long time.”

In addition, COOP will give away one expense-paid trip for two fans in attendance to travel to the 2016 Great American Beer Festival in Denver on October 8.


Any adult over the age of 21 attending the event will receive one entry into a drawing for the expense-paid trip for two guests to attend the 2016 Great American Beer Festival in Denver on October 8. The winner must be present for the 7:30 pm drawing to receive the prize package.

The Tornado Galley food truck will be on-site serving traditional German food such as bratwurst and pretzels.

The GABF prize package includes the following:

  • Two Members Only tickets for The Great American Beer Festival, Noon Session, October 8, 2016 in DenverSession access begins at 12:00 pm, October 8
    • One oz. tastings from 800 breweries and nearly 3,000 beers to choose from
    • Commemorative tasting cup
    • Commemorative festival program
  • Round-trip airfare from nearest, local airport to Denver
  • Two nights at the Holiday Inn Denver- Cherry Creek
    • Check in October 7
    • Check out October 9
  • $100 Visa Gift Card for meals
Total prize value is about $1,200 per package. Oktoberfest winners will be notified during the event.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

McCurtain County brewers look to carve out niche

I got down to the Beavers Bend State Park/Broken Bow Lake area last month, and had a chance to visit both Mountain Fork Brewery and Beavers Bend Brewery.

Both are small-scale, production breweries that officially opened their taprooms this year -- Beavers Bend in April and Mountain Fork in July.

They're both riding the recent wave of alcohol-related development in the Broken Bow Lake/Hochatown area. The two breweries, along with a distillery, three wineries and about a half-dozen restaurants/bars are the natural off-shoot of McCurtain County voters passing liquor-by-the-drink in 2015.

The breweries are both producing low-point offerings at the moment. Both offer pints and growler fills at their taprooms, while Beavers Bend offers its beer in bombers and Mountain Fork plans to offer crowlers.

It's worth noting as well that while Mountain Fork has been selling beer for about a month now, Beavers Bend has been in business for a couple years. They started out of Idabel, selling low-point beer by the keg to area restaurants, and now are located right next door to the popular Girls Gone Wine boutique. They clearly put a lot of effort into their expansive patio, which offers sweeping views of the neighboring woods.

Mountain Fork is located a little further up the highway to the north, right next door to the distillery, and offers probably the best-stocked gift shop of any brewery in the state.

I was able to trade emails with both brewmasters to check in on how things are going down in southeast Oklahoma.

First, Mountain Fork brewmaster Aaron Preston.


TTB: You guys just opened in July; how has the early reaction from guests been?

Aaron: The early response has been surprisingly good. I didn't know what to expect. I have been humbled by the positive feedback. It's very surreal going from a homebrewing background to selling beer to consumers.


TTB: Talk about what types of beers you guys are offering. What styles? 

Aaron: We will be offering four beers at launch, plus plans for more. Our current launch is: 

-The Rooster: It is my take on a Mexican ale. This beer was made to be our transition beer from the macro to craft. The idea came from sitting at different local restaurants and seeing what people were ordering.  In the area, Mexican beers are very popular. 
-259 Ale: This is our pale ale. It's lightly hopped and made to style.
-Hop Town Gal: This is our IPA. The hops paired with the sweet malt blends into a very drinkable IPA that wont blow out your pallet. 
-Tabb’s Dirt Road: This is our collaboration with Food Network’s "Chopped" champion Tabb Singleton. This will be a coffee stout. Tabb will be smoking the coffee beans that pair with our stout. Additionally, this beer will be offered on nitro. 


TTB: Where do you see the Hochatown area going in five years?

Aaron: I hope it keeps growing and stays a great place for tourist and locals alike to take their families. 


Next, Beavers Bend brewmaster Brad Reesing:


TTB: I noticed your beers tend to lean more toward the malt side than the hoppy/dry-hopped side as far as flavor goes. What is your thought process on your recipes?

Brad: My background with beer is more malty than hoppy. So we went with those types of recipes. The beers have been received well, although we do get some requests for hopped-up IPAs and APAs. I think it does take a while for beer drinkers to get accustomed to higher bitterness levels. We're kind of progressing along with our customers.


TTB: Do you have plans to brew high-point beers after Aug. 26?

Brad: We will look heavily into going high point this fall and study the options and kick around that idea. I would say that is definitely in our future, we'll just have to make a plan for that transition.



TTB: Where do you see the Hochatown area going five years from now?

Brad: Hochatown has seen a lot of growth in the past year, with a couple of new restaurants opening. Honestly, I wouldn't want to make a prediction about the future. We opened our brewery location in Hochatown on April 15, with lots of start-up costs, and we will chart our plans for the future after we get eight or 10 months under our belt.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Prairie to OKC a no-go without SB 424

Just in case you missed it, earlier today, Prairie Artisan Ales announced plans for a brewery, taproom and art studio in downtown Oklahoma City.

Immediately, I thought two things:

1. Hello, Senate Bill 424.

2. Who's next?

Some details first. Prairie will move into a building at 3 NE 8 -- for perspective, this is just to the east of S&B Burgers and just to the south of Kamp's in the Automobile Alley area. They will brew and sell some Prairie regulars like Bomb! and Standard and feature taproom sales and special bottle releases, according to the announcement on the Prairie website.

When Choc President Zach Prichard announced they had purchased Prairie and would look to open new locations, that wasn't just speculation. You have to figure the plans announced today had been in the works for some time.

And of course, this backs up something I've been saying (not to brag too much) about the promise of SB 424. To quote myself from a blog post on May 27:

"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 now here we go.

Have no doubt that this move by Choc/Prairie -- really a pretty huge deal not only in local, but maybe even in national and international beer circles -- likely would not have happened without the passage of SB 424.

Don't even take it from me. Take it from Prichard. His response when I asked today if it was fair to say Prairie to OKC doesn't happen without SB 424?

"Yes."

So what's next? Raise your hand if you would not be shocked if Roughtail and/or COOP looked to open brewery/taprooms closer to the city center. (My hand is raised.) In fact, I have it on good information that just like Choc, several future brewers, bar owners and developers have been working on their plans well ahead of the go-live date on SB 424.

As one key player on the OKC beer scene suggested to me recently, those who don't already have properties or buildings locked up right now may be behind the game already.

Get ready craft beer fans. It appears we are indeed on the front edge of a craft beer renaissance in Oklahoma.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

TapWerks releases beer list for IPA Day

TapWerks Ale House this afternoon released the beer list for Thursday night's IPA Day celebration.

Here you go:

5 p.m.
-Anthem Mosaic IPL
-Roughtail Adaptation
-Prairie Phantasmagoria
-Marshall Double Tough

6 p.m.
-Anthem White IPA
-Marshall Wild Brew Double IPA
-Dead Armadillo Husker Don't IPA
-COOP Nelson F5

7 p.m.
-Roughtail Smugglin' Plums
-Iron Monk Citrus Cascade
-COOP Sour IPA #1
-Anthem Rye'd or DIPA

8 p.m.
-Roughtail Wheat Dreams
-COOP Sour IPA #2
-COOP Grapefruit F5
-Anthem IPA

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Pints and Pins: News on SQ 792, SB 424; pint nights abound

Good evening beer fans. Wanted to share a few thoughts on the latest Oklahoma beer news...

-Concerning the news yesterday that an Oklahoma County judge declined the RLAO request for an injunction to keep State Question 792 off the ballot, there are a couple things worth mentioning. NewsOK reported that the RLAO is continuing to argue that SQ 792 is unfair because it would allow liquor store owners to hold licenses for only two locations. You may remember, state Sen. Stephanie Bice is on the record as explaining that during early negotiations, the RLAO was offered the ability to hold several licenses, but argued against that because, as Bice explained, they did not want chain liquor stores like Spec's or Total Wine coming into Oklahoma. Seems disingenuous to complain that SQ 792 harms you because it doesn't allow more than two licenses when you argued against multiple licenses earlier.

Further, saying SQ 792 is unfair because it would treat liquor stores differently than it does grocery stores is not so much a compelling argument against SQ 792 as it is a statement of fact. Of course it would treat them differently. One place would be allowed to sell liquor and the other wouldn't.

And last thing I'll say on this point tonight, you can try to convince me otherwise, but I'm hard-pressed to believe the true motive of the RLAO is anything other than simply protecting the market on cheap wine from Walmart. Can we agree to just drop all the double- and triple-talk and call it what it is? I guess saying "Walmart will steal all the cheap wine sales" isn't that compelling of an argument.

-Speaking of changing the rules/laws, I've seen a lot of discussion on Facebook concerning Senate Bill 424 and the ABLE Commission. There was a discussion about growlers, with speculation that ABLE had already issued a ruling that growler fills of full-strength beer would not be allowed. I spoke to two sources today in the beer industry who said that ABLE has not yet issued a ruling on growlers. Both confirmed the issue hangs in the balance, however, with discussions ongoing between ABLE and key stakeholders.

-Oak & Ore is hosting Evil Twin Molotov Madness at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, featuring 8% ABV, 13% ABV, and 18% ABV versions of Molotov Cocktail Imperial IPA. The event will include special glassware.

-Slaughter's Hall is hosting a Beer 101 Class at 6 p.m. Wednesday, featuring a study of the basics of six different beer styles. Tickets are $20.

-There's a relatively new beer-friendly spot open in Oklahoma City. The Root, 3012 N Walker Ave., opened up in May, featuring two dozen taps for craft beer. They host beer events most Wednesdays, including this week, when they'll feature an Anthem OK Pils Pint Night at 7 p.m., with special double-branded glassware.

-TapWerks is hosting its annual IPA Day celebration beginning at 5 p.m. on Thursday. I haven't seen a beer list for this yet, but TapWerks is promising 16 one-off IPAs from Oklahoma brewers. If the night is run anything like last year, they will have four flights of four beers, with the first four offered at 5 p.m., the second at 6 p.m., and so on. I will update if I hear differently.

-Guyutes is hosting an Anthem Ogletoberfest Pint Night on Thursday at 8 p.m.

-A date has been announced for the annual ARTonTAP beer tasting at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. The 2016 version of the event is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 23.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Judge: SQ 792 can stay on ballot

An Oklahoma County judge has ruled that State Question 792 can remain on the November election ballot, but the measure may not be on stable ground just yet.

An association of state liquor store owners recently filed paperwork in Oklahoma County District Court seeking an injunction to keep SQ 792 -- a ballot question asking for a revamp of the state's constitution when it comes to alcohol laws -- off the ballot altogether.

Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons on Monday declined to issue an injunction, saying she believed the measure should go on the ballot.

"But I do have concerns about the constitutionality of the measure," Timmons said, as reported by NewsOK on Monday.

According to the report on NewsOK, Timmons "said she wanted to set a briefing schedule to consider the state question's constitutionality."

That could mean that if SQ 792 passes, the courts may still rule it unconstitutional and strike it down after the fact.

Clearly, wherever the state is heading on alcohol law reform, that destination remains quite murky.