The beer will flow at the Utah Oktoberfest, after the state liquor board backed off its warning that the long-running German celebration of all things ale could go dry this year. Utah’s state liquor board last week voted unanimously to grant a license for Snowbird Ski Resort’s 12-week event, now in its fourth decade.
The decision means higher-alcohol beer, wine and spirits likely will flow at Snowbird Ski Resort’s Oktoberfest this fall.
Last month, the state liquor commission sparked a frenzy after it told Snowbird officials that the resort might not receive a single-event permit for its annual German-style celebration. The commission and staff at the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) had started using a stricter interpretation of state law when granting the single-event permits — namely favoring a “civic or community group that promoted a common good” over a for-profit business that already had other state liquor licenses.
The situation is an example of how complicated Utah’s liquor laws can be to interpret. Snowbird already holds 19 state liquor licenses for all its restaurants and bars. Those licenses, however, would allow only for beer that is 4 percent alcohol by weight (3.2 by volume) in the outdoor area where Oktoberfest is held. To serve higher-alcohol beer, wine or spirits, the resort needs a single-event permit.
The state relaxed its heavy-handed liquor laws in 2009, when it stopped requiring bars to operate as members-only social clubs. But officials rejected further revisions this year after Mormon church leaders defended Utah’s liquor laws, saying they keep people safe.
Snowbird’s Oktoberfest attracts about 60,000 people. It kicks off Aug. 16.