What Will Denver Parks Do When 3.2 Beer Dries Up?

During Fourth of July weekend festivities, did you kick back in one of Denver's parks and enjoy an icy-cold beer? A 3.2 beer, of course: That's all that's allowed under current Denver Department of Parks and Recreation regulations

But that will be changing, because in a few years, 3.2 beer — that archaic holdover from the end of Prohibition — will be obsolete in Colorado, thanks to SB 197, the compromise law that will allow the sale of full-strength liquor in this state's grocery stores. As of January 1, 2019, the law that now defines "3.2 beer" will be eliminated, and all beer will be treated equally — regardless of alcohol content.

The new law, which calls for a decades-long rollout, is complicated — and there are plenty of repercussions it doesn't address.

So between now and January 1, 2018, the Colorado Liquor Industry Working Group — which comprises distributors, retailers, law enforcement, MADD, convenience stores, grocery stores, LED, wholesalers, etc. — will meet and make recommendations to the Colorado Legislature on how the transition from 3.2 beer sales and 3.2 beer licenses to “full-strength beer licenses” should occur, and what laws and rules need to be put in place in order to have a "fair and equitable transition on January 1, 2019. " (The group's next meeting is set for August 1, time and location TBD.)

Denver officials will be watching, with an eye to changes that will be needed in city policies. Alcohol in the parks has been a controversial issue; two years ago, neighbors pushed to ban it altogether from Washington Park. That effort failed, and today park regulations dictate that "only 3.2% alcoholic beverages are allowed," and glass containers are forbidden altogether in every park. And how will those rules change?

"We will begin to do an analysis of the state’s actions and review what other jurisdictions are doing," says Yolanda Quesada, director of communications and marketing for Denver Parks and Recreation. "At this time, per our rules and regulations, only 3.2 beer is allowed."

Read the current alcohol policy here, then raise a glass (plastic only, please)...while you can.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun