Utah begins denying liquor permits, plans Oktoberfest beer ban for first time in 40 years

By David Edwards
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 16:06 EDT
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hoto: A woman wearing a traditional costume and holding a beer glass via Shutterstock]
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For the first time in 40 years, people attending Oktoberfest at the Snowbird Ski Resort may have to go without beer if the state of Utah has its way.

The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (UDABC) warned this week that it was cracking down on businesses that request single-use liquor permits.

“We’re trying to send a signal that we are tightening up and we are reluctant to grant [single-event permits] to for-profit organizations,” Chairman David Gladwell told the state liquor commission on Tuesday, according to the The Salt Lake Tribune. “For those who have applied in the past, this is a change of direction and one that is probably unsettling.”

Snowbird General Manager Bob Bonar said the resort had been shocked to learn last week that the UDABC had rejected permits for its annual Father’s Day Brewfest, which was scheduled for June 14 and 15.

“That’s tough for a business to take two weeks ahead of the event,” Bonar explained to the board.

The UDABC eventually granted the permit for June’s Brewfest, but warned that that the taps might be dry in August when Oktoberfest begins. Bonar said that he planned to work with the UDABC to try and find a way around the rules.

“Not having a liquor permit for Oktoberfest would hurt a lot,” Bonar pointed out. “It’s the second best thing we do after powder skiing.”

Gladwell told KSTU that the board was cracking down because they had been “allowing something the legislature had not intended” by granting permits for Oktoberfest over the last four decades.

“We felt like previous commissions had maybe drifted a little bit from the rules we had imposed on ourselves,” he insisted. “We’re reexamining our policies in all respects. It’s a healthy thing. It’s a good thing.”

KSTU reported that at least 10 businesses had been denied permits in recent months.

Because the majority of Utah residents belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the state has some of the most restrictive liquor laws in the country. Beer alcohol content is limited to 3.2 percent, and liquor cannot be sold before 10 a.m. or after 1 a.m.

Bartenders in Utah are required to pour all mixed drinks behind a so-called “Zion curtain” so that children cannot view the process, restaurants must serve food to customers before selling them alcohol, and drink specials are against the law.

Watch the video below from KTSU, broadcast May 27, 2014

[Photo: A woman wearing a traditional costume and holding a beer glass via Shutterstock]

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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