SALT LAKE CITY Organizers of an Oktoberfest celebration at a Utah ski resort have won a reprieve and will able to put stronger beers back on the menu after state regulators agreed to rework stringent rules for one-time event liquor licenses.
Critics scoffed when the state's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) told the Snowbird resort last month it might not be granted a permit to serve higher-alcohol beer, wine or spirits during the German-style fall festival.
State Senator Jim Dabakis, a Salt Lake City Democrat, said the department had turned Utah in a national "laughingstock," and lawmakers summoned DABC Director Sal Petilos on Monday to give its Administrative Rules Review Committee an explanation.
Petilos said officials were following guidelines for single-event licenses that favor civic or non-profit groups over for-profit events. But he said that in this case, permit rules would be reworked and input taken from businesses and the public.
Lack of a single-event permit would have stopped Oktoberfest from selling beer or any other drink with an alcohol content greater than 4 percent by weight or 3.2 percent by volume.
Conservative Utah is well-known for its strict and complex liquor laws. Snowbird already has 19 liquor licenses for its bars and restaurants but none that would allow for the sale of stronger brews at the outdoor event, which is held over several weekends.
(Reporting by Jennifer Dobner; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Trott)