New Colorado law cans 3.2% beer, takes effect Tuesday |

New Colorado law cans 3.2% beer, takes effect Tuesday

The beer cooler section at the New Castle City Market is empty, for the most part, for now. Come Tuesday, with the change of the calendar to 2019, it and other grocery and convenience stores will be allowed to sell full-strength beer.
Matthew Bennett/Post Independent

If you’ve ever picked up a six pack of beer from a Colorado grocery store or convenience shop, you’ve probably noticed a less-than-hoppy selection compared to what can be found in liquor stores.

That all changes Tuesday, when new state legislation will go into effect allowing those same grocery and convenience stores the ability to sell full-strength beer.

Current law labels up to 3.2 percent beer as a “fermented malt beverage” whereas “malt liquor” refers to beer containing in excess of 3.2 percent alcohol by weight, or 4 percent alcohol by volume.

Senate Bill 18-243, which Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law earlier this summer, does away with the alcohol-content distinction between the two.

It additionally states, “that, as of January 1, 2019, a fermented malt beverage retailer will be able to sell beer with no maximum alcohol content…”

The new alcohol allowance, however, will not change current law as it relates to the sale of wine and hard liquor.

For those types of libations, one must still visit a liquor store.

While the passage of the new law will undoubtedly receive a warm welcome from grocery and convenience store operators, liquor store owners aren’t quite as bubbly about the change.

“Most people that drink on a regular basis, they’d rather go to their liquor store,” said a representative from Springs Liquor in Glenwood Springs, who did not want to be named.

“I grew up in California where the grocery markets were set up just like liquor stores. … This is going to be new for everybody here. It might take a little while, but it’s probably going to affect us a little bit. But everything always balances out.”

The Springs Liquor representative thought, however, that between regular clientele and a revolving door of guests staying at area hotels and motels, while a few beer sales here and there may go to grocery stores, business would carry on as usual.

Additionally representatives from City Market and Kum & Go in Glenwood Springs confirmed that, beginning Tuesday, they would make the switch to selling full-strength beer. City Market stores in Carbondale, New Castle and Rifle are also expected to make the switch, along with other conveniences stores in Garfield County.

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