Saturday, December 29, 2007

Oklahoma Christmas Beers

Pub Night took a hiatus last week while we visited family in the zymurgically-challenged state of Oklahoma. The title of this post is a joke, by the way. My holiday beer was Shiner Bock -- more specifically, Shiner Bock that had been dumbed-down to 3.2% ABW for supermarket sale in the Sooner State.

Most Americans are privileged to be able to complain about the bizarre contortions of their state's liquor laws. Maybe not you Louisianans -- do you even have liquor laws? But you can't beat Oklahoma, where beer above 3.2% alcohol content by weight can only be sold at liquor stores. Bars with a full liquor license can serve stronger beer, but -- get this -- not brewpubs.

Now, 3.2% isn't the complete disaster it sounds like, because it translates to about 4% by volume, which is the way alcohol content is reported by most people. But it's no wonder that there's not much of a local brewing industry, with an extremely low limit like that. It seems like the Indian tribes could get into the brewpub business and avoid the 3.2 limit -- they've got casinos right in the city limits of Tulsa now -- but maybe it's kind of taboo given the history of alcohol and Native Americans.


  1. I could be wrong about any or all of this, because it's been 10 years since I've been there, but: I think beer in Louisiana is limited to 3.2% as well. Plus, if I remember right, I think the cans were required to be 10oz. Miraculously, I somehow still managed to see people vomiting in the zydeco dancehall I was at.

  2. Part of Oklahoma's problem is that brew pubs were illegal till about 10 years ago, so it has been slow to develop.
    And our liquor laws are insane, unless you are a beer distributor.

  3. Lee, Wikipedia says only Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Utah have a 3.2 beer rule for retail. Consider Abita, some of those are more than 3.2%.

    You were probably drinking some kind of 10 oz. cans of 132-proof grain alcohol in Louisiana. That you bought at a gas station.

    Mark: don't feel lonely, beer distributors are the beneficiaries of the weird laws in almost every state, including Oregon.

  4. No, the 10-ouncers were beer. If you count Budweiser as beer. On that count, my memory was correct — I looked it up. I must be remembering the 3.2 stuff wrong, though.

    Mark, Texas has exactly the same problems as Oklahoma — brewpubs weren't legal until 15 years ago, and our laws are totally screwed, too. The proprietors of Kansas City's Boulevard Beer, one of my favorite breweries, told me that they held off on expanding distribution into Texas for years because of our crazy laws. Thankfully, they finally started shipping here late last year.

    A mutual friend of Bill and me always referred to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission as the "Texas Association of Baptist Churches."

  5. Bret also says, "Life's too cheap to drink short beer". Which should have kept that 10 oz. Budweiser out of your hands.

  6. Beer sold at room temperature from liquor stores is full strength in oklahoma.