Utah Alcohol Board May Not Give Snowbird's Oktoberfest a Beer Permit

May 28, 2014

The state liquor commission may not let Snowbird Ski Resort serve beer at its annual Oktoberfest this year. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control board laid out tighter guidelines this week for granting single-event permits to businesses. Snowbird’s General Manager argues that move could affect business as well as the community.

Credit Snowbird

Snowbird has been serving beer and wine at its annual Oktoberfest for four decades without incident, but the DABC could choose to end that tradition. The state liquor commission announced at its monthly board meeting this week that they are tightening requirements and reluctant to grant single-event permits to businesses.  The liquor board granted a permit for Snowbird’s Brewfest coming up in June, but warned it might not do so for Oktoberfest. Snowbird General Manager Bob Bonar says it’s tough to operate a business when the ground rules change suddenly.

“Like all ski resorts, Snowbird is working really hard to grow our summer business and our year-round business,” Bonar says. “Oktoberfest and the other events that we do here similar to other ski resorts, it’s a very, very big part of our business.”

Benefit to the Community?

DABC Director Salvador Petilos told KUER that the rules have not changed, but state statute requires that the permit be used for a civic or community group to promote a common good. Petilos says there has been an increase of applications for these types of permits from for-profit businesses.  He and the Commission want to make sure that they are following the statute consistently. Bonar is trying to make the case that Oktoberfest is an event that benefits the community. 

“It certainly would hurt Snowbird financially if we weren’t able to hold events like this, but to me it’s a bigger impact on our community at large,” Bonar says.  

Scott Beck, President and CEO of Visit Salt Lake says the tighter guidelines are not business friendly.

“Mountain community and mountain culture is very integral to who we are as a destination,” Beck says. “Making it more difficult for events like Oktoberfest to function - with a history of compliance and very successfully operating under the circumstances for a long, long time - that’s what seems difficult to understand.”

Snowbird has not yet submitted its permit application for Oktoberfest, but Petilos told KUER that it will likely be approved.