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Published 01/01/19 | Reading Time 2 min 19 sec
OKLAHOMA — A year ago today – Oct. 1 – Oklahomans saw firsthand the impact of modern alcohol laws in our state. Since that time, consumers and businesses have seen a variety of changes go into effect. Until State Question (SQ) 792 was passed in 2016, Oklahoma’s alcohol laws had originally been unchanged since 1959 when consumers voted to allow liquor stores and full-strength alcohol sales. In the past three years since SQ 792 was approved, Oklahoma has made big leaps forward to adjust 3.2% beer laws and alleviate restrictions on businesses and consumers. As the state continues to embrace modern alcohol laws, the beer industry, as well as many others, can be expected to grow.
“When SQ 792 passed overwhelmingly by the people in 2016, Oklahoma had 16 dry counties, small brewers were saddled with barriers to get their product to consumers, retailers were limited on what products they could provide and consumers could see the beer selection difference when they went to other states,” said Lisette Barnes, president of the Oklahoma Beer Alliance. “Now, Oklahomans are getting the same high-quality selection of cold, full-strength beers and convenience as our neighboring states, restrictions on business are lifted and we’re continuing to move forward.”
After the 2016 landmark approval of SQ 792, there were many changes counties, municipalities and businesses needed to address to be ready to sell cold, full-strength beer on Oct. 1, 2018. Sixteen counties voted to go wet for the first time since statehood and allow cold, full-strength beer sales. New zoning laws were put into place so businesses that previously sold 3.2% beer could sell full-strength beer. Businesses needed new licenses to sell full-strength beer and their employees who handled any alcohol sales needed to be trained and licensed to do so responsibly.
Since cold, full-strength beer sales went into effect last year, the Oklahoma Legislature has continued to tweak the laws so businesses can meet consumer demand without unintended restrictions. Due to the new laws and continued adjustments, the Oklahoma beer industry has seen an increase in sales, tax revenue and growth across the industry. In fact, the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement (ABLE) Commission reported a record $13.7 million in revenue from the new alcohol laws; Oklahoma Beer Alliance members have seen double-digit sales growth and have grown their operations to meet demand; and retailers have seen beer sales growth and attributed growth in other segments due to consumers’ “one-stop-shop” mentality.
“Growth in the Oklahoma beer industry means growth for the entire state,” said Barnes. “Our member distributors are providing a larger, high-quality selection of full-strength beer with more than 30 new brands available to consumers, which means retailers can provide what consumers are looking for, and consumers have much more convenience because they can purchase their favorite cold, full-strength beer at the retailer of their choice. All of this leads to increases in sales and revenue, which go right back into the Oklahoma economy.”
As Oklahoma enters the second year of modern alcohol laws, the industry is not slowing down and is poised for future growth.
“This is a great time to be a part of the Oklahoma beer industry,” said Barnes. “Consumers continue to be excited about the new, full-strength brands coming to the state, and it has created huge economic opportunities for distributors, retailers and brewers. We’re excited to have a front-row seat for this continued growth.”
About Oklahoma Beer Alliance
The Oklahoma Beer Alliance is dedicated to promoting common-sense laws that enable Oklahomans to choose the highest quality products without compromise while encouraging personal responsibility throughout our community that benefits the common good. For more information, please visit okbeeralliance.com.