Grocery and convenience store owners are renewing their push to sell beer exceeding 3.2 percent alcohol, Soggy Coaster's colleague in Denver reports.
It would require a change in state law, and a bill is expected to hit the floor of the Legislature next week. As it stands now, grocery and convenience stores are prohibited from selling full-strength beer, leaving it mostly to locally owned liquor stores.
The Colorado Brewers Guild, of which all four Durango breweries are members, opposes the bill.
There are many considerations here: liquor stores provide jobs and some may close if they lose their monopoly on full-strength beer. Some liquor stores have fantastic beer selections and those may also fall by the wayside. On the other hand, liquor stores have an unnatural monopoly that economists would surely scoff at. In essence, state law currently protects liquor stores from competition.
Oregon's example may be instructive. That state has a thriving craft beer industry despite allowing grocery stores to carry full-strength beer. The grocery stores there carry most of the big regional brewers like Deschutes, Widmer and Bridgeport. But good luck finding special releases or smaller breweries in grocery stores. That's where specialty beer stores come in. In cities like Portland and Eugene, beer stores thrive. Belmont Station and John's Market in Portland and The Bier Stein in Eugene offer expansive selections.
If the law passes and Colorado grocery stores do in fact get to sell full-strength beer - a big if - Soggy Coaster isn't persuaded that it necessarily spells doom for Colorado's small beer retailers.