Oklahoma state question passage may put final nail in low-point beer coffin nationwide

TULSA, Okla. — Quick facts:

  • Oklahoma is voting on whether to allow high-point beer sales in grocery and convenience stores.
  • The Sooner State accounts for more than half of all low-point beer sales nationwide.
  • Some wonder if the passage of State Question 792 would be the beginning of the end of low-point beer sales in the U.S.

Oklahoma voters are in the national spotlight on Election Day, not for their presidential choice, but the result of a question that could be the final nail in the coffin for 3.2 percent beer nationwide.

SEE MORE: Local craft beer lovers rejoice as Oklahoma debates future alcohol laws

The Sooner State is the top consumer of what is commonly called “weak” or “low-point beer.” Oklahoma drinks 56 percent of all 3.2 percent beer made, followed by Utah at 29 percent, then Colorado, Minnesota and Kansas in the single digits. Colorado will be getting rid of low-point beer requirements by 2019.

The 3.2 percent beer accounts only for 1.8 percent of all of the beer produced nationwide.

On Election Day, voters will be asked to decide on State Question 792. The question would not only allow for the sale of cold wine and beer in grocery, convenience, and liquor stores, but the legislation would remove alcohol by weight requirements, which currently only allow for the refrigerated sale of 3.2 percent ABW beers in those locations.

SEE MORE: Breweries can sell high point beer per AG ruling

If Oklahoma voters approve 792, brewers would lose their largest customer base for low-point beer, and it is believed they will stop producing the low-point beer altogether to focus on one type of beer for the entire country.

Right now, for example, Bud Light is sold in Oklahoma and Utah as 3.2 percent ABW, but in states without ABW requirements a Bud Light is 3.5 percent ABW.

Mike Thornbrugh, QuikTrip spokesman, tells FOX23 breweries make low point beer at an extra cost just for states like Oklahoma and Utah to have something on convenience and grocery store shelves that they consider beer. With Oklahoma getting out of the low-point market under the new law, it is likely breweries would be able to save money by making a single strength product instead of making a special batch for special states.

SEE MORE: Local retail liquor stores make final push against state question

Officials in Utah are watching Oklahoma voters to see how their own state should move forward. Their laws are similar to Oklahoma’s when it comes to low-point beer and where it can be sold. Regulators and state lawmakers there feel if both Oklahoma and Colorado plan to get out of the market, their laws will need to change, or their grocery and convenience stores will not be able to have any beer to legally sell on their stores’ shelves.

Utah legislators are gearing up for a statewide update there if State Question 702 passes, because the only place in Utah to get a beer would be in a liquor store, and merchants say they cannot handle high demand and keep up their stock if grocery stores and convenience stores aren’t helping with demand.

SEE MORE: Oklahoma voters to decide 7 state questions in November