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Last Call for 3.2 Beer?

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A Senate bill was introduced Thursday that would legalize the sale of full-strength wine and beer in grocery stores. If passed, S.B. 149 could mean the death of the Colorado oddity known as 3.2 beer. In 2006, I wasted away hour after hour of my life in front of microfilm at the Colorado Historical Society, perusing 1920s newspaper clippings to learn the story behind Colorado’s Prohibition era liquor laws, and 3.2 beer, ("Last Call," March 2006).

The story was also a case history in how the independent liquor store lobby has managed to successfully kill every attempt to revamp blue laws since. Microbreweries joined their cause, fearing that if big grocery chains sold booze, they would put small liquor stores – the ones that carry wide selections of local craft brews – out of business.

This bill throws in a few concessions to the liquor stores, like letting them sell some food, and requires grocery stores to carry craft beers and boutique wines. But the liquor stores aren’t expected to just roll over and welcome King Soopers and Safeway onto their turf.

This year’s debate will be as hot as ever, best followed with an ice cold beer. -- Jessica Centers

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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