This is how you play the game: Utah ax-throwing business gets beer license by adding pool tables

What does an ax-throwing business have to do to get a beer license around here?

Install three pool tables and some arcade games.

After being denied a liquor license last month, the owners of Social Axe Throwing in Ogden added those games to their new business — and it was enough to qualify for a recreational beer license from the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Last month, the DABC commission denied the Social Axe’s beer license request — as well as a similar application from Salt Lake City’s Heart & Seoul Karaoke — saying the businesses did not qualify as recreational amenities under a new liquor law passed by the Utah Legislature.

The law lists specific businesses that can have recreational beer licenses. Bowling alleys, golf courses, pool halls, ski resorts and government-owned concert venues, for instance, made the list.

Karaoke and ax throwing did not.

Adding the pool tables and games appeased most of the liquor commission. It voted 6-1 on Tuesday to grant the license that allows the sale of beer that is 3.2 percent alcohol by weight (or 4 percent by volume).

Commissioner Thomas Jacobson offered the lone dissenting vote, saying the Social Axe was not complying with the spirit of the law and should change its signs to say it was a pool hall.

However, Amanda Smith spoke for the majority when she said the commission needed to use “common sense" and that Social Axe had done what it needed to meet the state requirements.

“I hope there are people who are looking at redoing the statute and getting rid of the enumeration,” she said, “because who knows what recreation is going to look like in the future.”

After the vote, Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, who co-sponsored the measure, said the commission “made the right decision,” and he promised to consider changes that would make the board’s job easier in the future.

The issue is likely to come up again, because the liquor commission has also given recreational beer licenses to several ax-throwing businesses along the Wasatch Front, including Social Axe Throwing venues in Salt Lake City and Orem.

When those licenses expire at year’s end, the beer could stop flowing unless owners add pool tables and arcade games — or the law is changed.