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OKC FOX: Consumer Watch: Oklahoma breweries encouraged by new alcohol laws

Consumer Watch: Oklahoma breweries encouraged by new alcohol laws

OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — Oklahoma ranks No. 42 in the number of craft breweries in the state with 27 of them, according to data from 2016.

Numbers have increased over the last few years, according to the Brewers Association.

It is changes in the Oklahoma alcohol laws that could spark major growth in the industry. Those changes to alcohol laws are coming Oct. 1. Oklahomans voted to approve state question 792 in 2016, and businesses have been adapting to the coming changes since that “yes” vote.

One Oklahoma business owner says his brewery dream was a decade in the making.

“I decided to get a job at a brewery, kind of see what it was all about, and really held on to that idea for about 10 years, “says Joel Irby, Stonecloud Brewing Company owner.

Stonecloud has recently celebrated it’s one-year anniversary. Irby says he opened his business with a lot of hope for friendlier laws, and luckily for him, those laws indeed passed.

“In retrospect I don’t think we would have made it without the tap room. I think that was such an important part of our business when we opened. I think I underestimated how necessary that was,“ says Irby.

More changes for the industry are on tap. Oct. 1 will mean cold alcohol at liquor stores and stronger beers for consumers, but Irby says it will also make business easier for small breweries. They will now have more say in which distributors they use, and some may be able to distribute their own product.

“For small breweries, that’s crucial to getting off the ground. You open up with a taproom, you get a few really good accounts around town, and then you kind of grow from there. That’s really the model the rest of the country has been using, and in Oklahoma it hasn’t been possible until now,” says Irby.

These changes are potentially enticing for people are interested in opening their own breweries now.

The Oklahoma market is far from saturated. According to that data from the Brewers Association, Oklahoma has 27 craft breweries, while Colorado has 348.

If you brew your own beer at home, and think about opening up a business, know that it won’t come cheap. You can open a small operation for $100,000 or $200,000, but industry experts say a larger craft brewery with new equipment can cost a $1 million in startup funds.

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