Well folks, I’m not a liquor laws lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, and it’s looking like an extreme long shot that the Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival will be held May 21.
I spoke to Greg Powell, TapWerks general manager and OCBF organizer, to get some clarity on the ABLE Commission decision that the festival is illegal. As far as I can tell, the problem here is that TapWerks had certain legal hoops to jump through and regulations to abide by, and did not do that.
Before I get into some of the technicalities, let me preface this by saying that Powell has always been accommodating in terms of providing information about the festival, and kudos to him for taking on this massive event, which by the way, was set to benefit the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. Unfortunately for Powell, local breweries and beer fans, this year’s fest will likely merely be a hard lesson learned in advance of a possible event next year.
Here’s the nitty gritty from Powell:
-TapWerks has to have an ABLE Commission special event permit to serve strong beer at any location other than inside TapWerks. However, TapWerks cannot purchase a special event permit because the bar already has a strong beer license.
-TapWerks would have had to find an outside entity to purchase the license and all the beer for the event, but it takes at least 20 to 30 days to obtain the license, putting the bar in a time crunch even if it could orchestrate something.
-TapWerks asked if it could change the event to be completely not-for-profit, and have all of the beer donated. ABLE said that only 501-3C charitable entities can accept donations for beer or liquor. Even then, the 501-3C would have to obtain the same special event license that takes 20 to 30 days to obtain.
-TapWerks faced another major hurdle in terms of pricing for the event. Because of its license, the bar cannot charge a different price inside for a beer than it would charge outside for it. So, in order to be legal, every sample of beer would have to be paid for individually.
To get over this hurdle, TapWerks has proposed to ABLE that all of the beers available both outside and inside sell for $4 per pint, or $0.25 an ounce. That would lead to punch cards that would be punched with each sample. However, Powell said he feared that plan likely wouldn’t be legal either due to rules about how many strong beer specials a bar can feature at one time.
ABLE apparently has yet to respond to TapWerks’punch card idea, but my impression is that even TapWerks views that as a long shot. I’ve asked Powell about the refund process, and if it comes to that, I’ll share the information here.