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The end of Prohibition was formalized in December of 1933 with the 21st Amendment ratification. Unfortunately, Oklahoma failed to receive that memo as Prohibition remained in place for Oklahomans until 1959. Even until 1984, it was illegal to offer liquor by the drink. More recently last year, Oklahomans returned to the voting both for the right to purchase cold beer.
Low-point beer is defined as beer containing 3.2% alcohol by weight or about 4% alcohol by volume. For approximately 9 months prior to the ratification of the 21st amendment, 3.2% beer was the strongest allowable beer that could be produced. Although Prohibition was eventually officially repealed in 1933, states still retained power to regulate through their own alcohol laws.
Oklahoma flexed its regulatory power in a rather odd way by prohibiting the sale of any beer over 3.2% ABW, or more commonly known as any beer worth enjoying, unless it was offered at room temperature. Good beer had to be sold warm. Needless to say, Oklahoma didn’t exactly create the best incentives for brewers to make their home in the state or persuade brewers from elsewhere around the country from offering their product to Oklahomans.
In May of 2016, the state House and Senate passed sweeping reforms to Oklahoma’s alcohol laws including the sale of refrigerated high point beer. Voters made it official in November. The new law will allow convenience and grocery stores to sell cold high point beer and wine. Oklahomans are not yet liberated though. The law does not go into effect until October of 2018.
As always, the market eventually wins. We laugh at these silly Prohibition-era liquor laws, but it’s truly hard to imagine how many have remained on the books for so many decades after the country regained sanity back in 1933. It may be a small win, but purchasing good beer in a refrigerator is a refreshing win for freedom-loving Oklahomans.