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Oklahoma Craft Beer Summit set for Jan. 14 in the Plaza District

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Update: Organizers for the 2nd Annual Oklahoma Craft Beer Summit have made the decision to postpone Saturday’s conference due to potential severe weather.

“We knew it was a possibility, and we’ve been keeping a close eye on the weather reports. We’re seeing a full day of rain, possibly freezing rain, followed by freezing temperatures all night,” said Micah Andrews, owner of craft beer bar Oak & Ore and creator and host of the conference. “This event requires a lot of people driving, hauling kegs and equipment, and moving quickly between locations. As much as we would love a full day celebrating Oklahoma’s craft beer industry, it just isn’t worth risking the safety of any guests. Our sponsors and speakers have made some big commitments, so we didn't make this decision lightly.”

OKLAHOMA CITY – Beer enthusiasts, brewers and brewing hopefuls can learn the ins and outs of the craft beer industry in Oklahoma at the second annual Oklahoma Craft Beer Summit Saturday, an event that will not only share industry best practices, but set the stage for continued growth in the state.

Oak & Ore and the Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma (CBAO) will present the event at Lyric Theatre, and the fundraising event is expected to attract 250 brewers, industry leaders and craft beer lovers from across the state to the Plaza District in Oklahoma City.

The event features panel discussions, beer tastings from 19 Oklahoma breweries and 10 sessions on the business of craft brewing. According to Micah Andrews, owner of Oak & Ore in the Plaza District, the summit will cover topics ranging from home brewing to operating a full production brewery.

"We've had new legislation pass, but we still have a lot of lobbying to do," he said. "We need to address the changes that State Question 792 brings up. There are a lot of definitions not nailed down yet."

In November, Oklahoma voters approved SQ 792, which allowed for the sale of full-strength beer and wine in grocery and convenience stores, among other changes. The law's changes are expected to go into effect in 2018.

In addition, the state legislature approved a law in 2016 allowing tap rooms at breweries to sell products direct to the public. The summit agenda will cover topics ranging from the recent modernization of Oklahoma liquor laws to national industry trends and the outlook for Oklahoma breweries in 2017 and beyond.

The Summit was originally designed to attract the attention of Oklahoma lawmakers in hopes of advancing legal changes to the beer industry. With the recent passage of Oklahoma Senate Bill 424, brewers across the state are now able to serve all beers, both low- and high-point, directly to the public. Future summits will address a wide variety of topics in the Oklahoma craft beer industry and will serve as the primary fundraising event for the Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma.

"Oklahoma is 50th in breweries per capita, and the demand now is higher than the supply," Andrews said. "We are also focusing on draft beer and how to improve quality and integrity in draft beer."

Keynote speaker, Bernardo Alatorre of Avery Brewing in Boulder, Colo., will join guest speakers that include state legislators, real estate investors, grain and malt suppliers and other industry leaders. Alatorre is currently the head production manager at Avery and has more than 20 years of experience in high-volume beer production.

Other speakers include David Wanzer, Jonathon Dodson and Ben Sellers from Pivot Project; State Sen. Stephanie Bice; American Solera Owner Chase Healey; Tim Hladik of Forty Six Grain Company; Krebs Brewing Co. President Zach Pritchard and more.

The Summit will conclude with the 2017 State of the Brewnion. This year’s address will focus on a post-SB 424 Oklahoma as well as issues of quality, integrity and the challenges ahead for a rapidly growing and changing industry.

"With the laws changing, people see a huge opportunity for growth in the market," Andrews said. "We have hundreds of breweries in the planning and more and more breweries moving to the urban core. This conference is an opportunity to help people with the process. Our goal is to make Oklahoma a craft beer destination in the country."

Tickets are on sale now for $75 per person and can be purchased online at Tickets are all-inclusive and provide the attendee with access to all sessions, tastings, tours, specialty glassware, conference t-shirt and more. All proceeds from ticket sales and donations will go to support the continuing legal and educational work of the CBAO.

The Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma Inc. (CBAO) is dedicated to educating and creating awareness among legislators, regulators and the general public of the issues facing the craft brewing industry in Oklahoma, and to promoting a healthy economic environment in Oklahoma that enables public choices in the marketplace for the consumer, and opportunity and access to the marketplace by Oklahoma breweries.

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Heide Brandes

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