Many of you had planned to attend Saturday's Southern Plains Craft Beer Festival down at Learn to Brew in Moore. Red Earth Brewers was going to have a table set up and several of our members had volunteered to donate some homebrew and pour at the event. The folks at Learn To Brew had gotten everything squared away with the ABLE commission months ago (or so they thought) and it looked like it was going to be a great event.
But in yet another classic government agency example of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, the ABLE Commission in its infinite wisdom (be careful not to let any of that sarcasm drip on you) and scuttled the deal. The ABLE person who contacted Learn to Brew today (not the same person they had dealt with in the past) informed them that they couldn't have homebrewers giving away beer. It basically came down to an interpretation of the homebrew law: under the law that passed a year and a half ago, homebrewing is legal and you can give away samples, but you are not allowed to sell homebrew. ABLE, apparently, is interpreting the definition of selling very broadly. So even though all the proceeds from this event are going to charity and all of the homebrewers were donating their beer, free of charge, because the festival required a paid admission ticket, they are saying that falls under the definition of selling the beer. We debated about showing up anyway, but decided it would be much to big of a risk. Not only could ABLE then shut down the whole festival, but if they really wanted to be sticklers on the law, each individual homebrewer pouring there could be on the hook for big fines and even jail time. So it's just not worth the risk.
I'm not so much frustrated that ABLE Commission nixed the pouring of homebrew--I can kind of see their point (although I disagree with it) on the wording of the law. But I find it asinine that, when they've known all about this event for three months, they wait until the day before to let everyone know, "Oh, by the way, forget everything we've been telling you all this time."
So the short version is that all the Oklahoma brewers will be there pouring, as will a local liquor store that is donating craft beer. But any participation by Oklahoma's homebrewing community will be simply as spectators.
Sigh. Another day, another 1930's era Oklahoma beer law.