Here is the latest in my series Five Questions With…
Today we have Brett Robinson, president of the Oklahoma Malt Beverage Association.
1. The Thirsty Beagle: A great deal of my readers probably haven’t heard of the Oklahoma Malt Beverage Association. Explain to the readers what it is you guys do.
Brett Robinson: OMBA is the leading trade association for Oklahoma beer distributors. We were founded in 1938, in the wake of the repeal of Prohibition, to advocate on behalf of small businesses, several of which are multi-generation and family-owned, that are integral parts of the three-tier system for beverage alcohol sale and distribution and to promote effective state-based regulation of beverage alcohol. We also invest an abundance of resources and effort in urging Oklahomans to drink responsibly by never drinking and driving and not consuming beer or any alcoholic beverages if under the legal age of 21.
2. TTB: On your Web site, it shows that Choc is a member of the organization; is that the only Oklahoma brewery that is a member? What are the advantages of a state brewery — or any brewery — joining OMBA?
BR: Yes, Choc is a member and we’re happy to have an award winning local brewery on our team. They are an affiliate member and we look forward to welcoming other great local brewers as members. The advantage is we spend a lot of time and resources advocating on behalf of and promoting the three-tier system, and as brewers they are the first tier. OMBA is an advocate for the entire beer industry.
3. TTB: Speaking of local breweries, do the guys like COOP, Marshall and Mustang use a distributor? It seems like they would be circumventing the three-tier system if they didn’t. Your thoughts?
BR: The short answer is yes, they do. In Oklahoma (and all other states as well), it’s the law for beer manufacturers to distribute their product to bars, restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores and liquor stores only through a distributor. Since beverage alcohol is definitely not your typical consumer product, the three-tier system allows the state of Oklahoma to control alcoholic beverages through a regulatory system that prevents the abuses that led to Prohibition.
4. TTB: I mentioned your Web site — www.oklahomabeer.org — a couple questions ago; I thought there was a lot of interesting beer information there. Could you mention a few notable things people can find on the Web site?
BR: Our Web site is full of interesting facts regarding the Oklahoma beer industry, including “The Beer Guy,” a video documentary on the daily life of a beer distributor. It also contains economic facts regarding the beer industry, including the annual economic impact the industry has in Oklahoma, the number of Oklahomans employed in the industry and the amount of annual wages paid to those employees. The Web site also features easy beer ingredient recipes and our most recent public service radio advertisements regarding responsible beer and alcohol consumption.
5. TTB: The Super Bowl is coming up this weekend. Is this the busiest time of the year for beer distributors and retailers? Is there another time where the volume of beer purchased is greater?
BR: The Super Bowl is obviously a great time to enjoy malt beverage products responsibly, and it is a big weekend for us, however we actually do more volume around summer holidays and Christmas.
There you have it. Thanks to Brett for taking a little time out of his schedule to chat and give readers a look at another side of the state’s beer industry.