A new bill would put craft beers in grocery stores

For the past four years, Colorado lawmakers have put forward proposals — as regularly as that drunken uncle who never fails to show up for Christmas dinner — that would allow grocery stores or convenience stores, or both, to sell full-strength beer. And just as regularly, those bills have been roughly escorted out the door by craft-beer and liquor-store advocates who believe the proposals would hurt business.

This year, Representative Kevin Priola, a Republican from Henderson, wants to leave the drunken uncle behind, offering a proposal that he believes should make both sides happy. "I've tried to come up with something...the Goldilocks model...that is not too hot, not too cold, but just right — something that preserves the craft beer niche but also allows the supermarkets and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer."

Grocery stores and convenience stores are currently allowed to sell only beer that is 3.2 percent alcohol by weight (or 4 percent by volume). Priola's bill — which is still being written and should be introduced at the end of this month or in early February — would give those stores the ability to sell beer made by any brewer that produces fewer than six million barrels per year, effectively limiting sales to craft breweries and freezing out Coors, Miller and Bud. The largest craft brewery in the country, the Boston Beer Company (maker of Sam Adams), produces around two million barrels per year. Colorado's New Belgium Brewing, which is the third-largest craft brewer in the country, made fewer than 900,000 barrels in 2012; most craft breweries make fewer than 15,000 barrels per year.

The bill would also limit those sales to beers that are less than 10 percent ABV (which is the majority of them). "That's an important part of the bill," Priola says, "because the beers above 10 percent start to get closer to spirits and wine. I don't want to get into what liquor stores do and do well, but I do want to have a convenient way for consumers to buy full-strength beer when they're getting chips and dips."

Priola believes he has the support of grocery stores — although they would prefer to be able to sell all kinds of beer — but he isn't so sure about the craft brewers and the Colorado Brewers Guild; those organizations, as well as independent liquor stores, have vehemently fought against any legislation that would allow grocery or convenience stores to sell beer because they feel like it would severely impact their sales. "They listened...but the craft brewers seem a little nervous, and I can understand that. They see this as being the camel's nose under the tent," Priola says.

"I have spent a lot of time researching this," he adds. "You have to operate within the parameters of what is realistic. This should be a reasonable compromise."

Priola says he will probably introduce his bill in the last few days of January or in the first few days of February.

******

Seen and herd: Coloradans have plenty of run-ins with bears, mountain lions, coyotes, skunks, moose and elk every year, but only the very, very lucky ever lay eyes on a sasquatch. You know, Bigfoot. In hopes that the recent forest fires might have forced any possible bigfoots (bigfeet?) out of hiding, the team from Animal Planet's Finding Bigfootshot their most recent episode, "Bigfoot Merit Badge," near the town of Bailey — with the help of a local Girl Scout troop. As bait!

The show follows the exploits of Matt, Cliff, Bobo and Ranae — the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization — as they look for giant hairy man-beasts all over the country and on other continents. In this case, the team wanted to investigate local sightings, as well as study footage of a possible bigfoot from 1962. What better way to do that than by herding Girl Scouts into a confined area at night...in the woods?

Did it work? You'll have to find out yourself by watching the show. We're hoping no cookies were injured during the filming.

Birds of a feather: Last Sunday's New York Times included an article, "In a Minnesota bog, a festival of birds," about the Fifth Annual Sax-Zim Winter Birding Festival, which draws birding enthusiasts from around the world to this cold, rural part of Minnesota. It also gave a shout-out to author and former Denver Post reporter Mark Obmascik, noting, "Sax-Zim got a reputation as one of birding's holy grounds in Mark Obmascik's 2004 book The Big Year, which became a movie starring Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black in 2011."

 
My Voice Nation Help
25 comments
Garnish Social
Garnish Social

Definitely not. It would be an atrocity to the micro brew culture!

Carrie Appel
Carrie Appel

Jesus, how hard is it to go to a liquor store?

Matt Morava
Matt Morava

I'd like to see us change that whole ridiculous law. Four months in California on a writing retreat and being able to buy alcohol at Safeway = priceless.

Nick Murphy
Nick Murphy

This is nice but like others say it would be 3.2 and we would lose out in state revenue to large corporations I'm sure this is an idea brought forth by hickenlooper

Chris Williams
Chris Williams

No! Besides STILL screwing over liquor store owners, cutting coors and bud doesn't do anything with the 6 million barrel cap. If anything have a lower max on output and allow the TRUE micro craft breweries to have a go at the big times.

Gene Elliott
Gene Elliott

No, Colorado's craft beer industry would be adversely impacted if grocery stores carried full strength beer. Selection would be limited, breweries would go out of business, as would mom/pop liquor stores.

Nicole Lamas
Nicole Lamas

No it supports small business and helps our economy.

KJ's Coffee Bar
KJ's Coffee Bar

No...there's no reason to send our money for Colorado brews to out-of-state corporate headquarters...

Kippie Loughlin
Kippie Loughlin

No craft beers in grocery stores please . Most grocery stores are Texas, California owned. Let's keep our money here in Colorado by supporting Colorado grown liquor stores

Matthew Bauerle
Matthew Bauerle

NO! WTF? Why should corporate grocery stores get that money? Let the liqour store owners keep their income.

Aaron Harmon
Aaron Harmon

Why? It would be 3.2 anyway. Just go to a liquor store.

MrGoodBeer
MrGoodBeer

Liquor stores don't want chip and food.  Thats not there business, BEER, WINE and LIQUOR is.  How inconvient is it really to go across the parking lot of the grocery store to get 5+ times the selection, and actually be able to talk to somebody who knows a thing or two about their product.  Rep Priola is in the pocket of Walmart, thats all.

r8rh8r_1
r8rh8r_1

in Phoenix Az the grocery stores can sell any and all liquor.  Rather than make an extra trip to a liquor store, most people buy their booze when they grocery shop.  This put most of the family owned small business liquor stores out of business.  It also made for a Terrible selection of beer.  The grocery stores have a wall of bad beer, coors light, bud light & miller lite, and have no interest in giving up valuable floor space for the countless craft brewed beers.  The more that the grocery stores are allowed to sell, the more it hurts our locally owned liquor stores.  Jobs are lost and our craft brew selection goes down.  Craft brewed beer in grocery stores will hurt the business of near by liquor stores who carry a much larger variety of microbrews.  Craft brewed beers in grocery stores is bad for the local economy and bad for the Beer Enthusiast

chipperdave
chipperdave

They should also allow liquor stores to sell chip & dip and other food items too - otherwise it's all sales out the door for the liquor stores. And why even bother putting an ABV limit in the law? 10% is huge anyway.

 
Loading...