Thursday, March 12, 2009

3.2 beer bill falls flat

Soggy Coaster's colleague in Denver has a story in today's Durango Herald about a bill that would have allowed grocery stores to sell full-strength beer. The bill failed in committee.

Craft brewers opposed the bill, fearing that allowing grocery stores to sell full-strength beer would hurt liquor stores, on whose shelves Colorado craft beer has flourished.

Erik Maxson, co-owner and head brewer at Durango's own Carver Brewing Co., traveled to Denver to represent brewers.

Colorado is one of only five states with a 3.2 beer law. The effects can easily be seen - try to find a square mile in Durango that doesn't have a liquor store. The law has given liquor stores an effective monopoly on full-strength beer that has allowed them to flourish.

Soggy Coaster has no dog in this fight. However, he thinks the predictions of doom and gloom for brewers and liquor stores should Colorado someday approve liberalizing the full-strength beer law may prove overblown.

Look at Oregon or California, both of which have thriving craft-beer industries without restrictive 3.2 laws. Ask Deschutes Brewery, Rogue Ales, Widmer Brothers and BridgePort Brewing Co. in Oregon, and Stone Brewing Co. and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in California, among others, if they have thrived in those states that allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer. The answer is self-evident. Is Soggy Coaster missing something?

(The Denver Post also has the story).


  1. Having just moved to Colorado from California I think we've got a good thing going here.
    Sure Stone and Sierra Nevada are having no problems, but they're the heavy weights of craft beer (even outside California).

    I've been amazed at the craft beer selection at the liquor stores I've gone to in Durango. Back in San Diego most liquor stores only had a few craft breweries beers and all the big imports and domestics. Sure you can get Stone at the grocery store (Pale Ale and IPA, good luck finding anything else). But you had to make a trip to a specialty liquor store to get Ballast Point, Coronado Brewing, Lost Abbey, Pizza Port, Alesmith, etc, just like in Colorado. Only problem was those liquor stores with a decent selection were few and far between.

    I'd hate to see that happen here.

  2. Visiting the good liquor stores (I think of Star in Durango and Argonaut in Denver, among others) makes me want the law to stay the way it is. However, my nearby crappy liquor stores, that jack up prices on six packs to $10 when they should be $7, make me wish the grocery stores could put them out of business. I bet that the good liquor stores that provide a service (as opposed to exploiting an "unnatural monopoly") would stay in business and I could get a sixer of Stone, Sierra, or New Belgium with my groceries, should the law ever pass. I'm with soggy on this "argument" - that is, it really probably doesn't matter. The story was on our NPR station (KUNC) this morning, and I knew Soggy would be all over it.