Categorized under: beer laws, Left Hand

BEER LAW – pending legislation to allow full-strength beer sales in supermarkets

Here’s a new beer law story.  This ones originates in Colorado.  From the information provided, there is legislation in the mix to allow the sale of full-strength beer at grocery and convenience stores.  Currently, only beer lower than 3.2% can be sold.

I understand that this will take sales away from the liquor stores, but I think that this is a great opportunity for Craft Breweries.   In Mass, many grocery stores can not sell beer or wine, unless they have been grandfathered in.  But, we are on the border of NH — who is able to sell beer in grocery stores.  The grocery stores are helping to keep the craft breweries stay afloat — if you can get into them.

Knowing that Colorado is one of the MAJOR craft beer producers in the US, this could be a boost for the breweries to increase their production and expand their operations.  Yes, this will increase the availability of macro breweries, but I see this more as an opportunity than a threat.

For the liquor stores, you can still stay afloat.  Differentiate yourself.  Sell specialty beers that are not available anywhere else.  Provide education seminars and organize local beer events.

If you have an opinions, please add a comment.  We welcome those for and against this proposal.

Thanks

Sean
2Beerguys.com

Drink Craft Beer, You’ve Earned It!!

Battle is brewing – Pending legislation may allow full-strength beer at the supermarket

By Tony Kindelspire

LONGMONT — Pending state legislation is pitting liquor stores and craft brewers against grocery and convenience stores.

Grocery and convenience store owners say their beer sales dropped dramatically after lawmakers allowed liquor stores to open on Sundays. Now, they want to be allowed to sell full-strength beer, rather than just 3.2 beer.

Independent liquor store owners and small craft breweries, though, say they’ll be harmed or forced to close if the law is changed to allow consumers to buy full-strength beer at grocery and convenience stores.

After liquor stores started opening on Sundays last July, sales of 3.2 beer at grocery and convenience stores dropped 66 percent, according to Sean Duffy, a spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Food Industry Association.

That group and others are behind state legislation expected to be sponsored this session by Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, and Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West.

“It’s terrible,” said Eric Wallace of Longmont’s Left Hand Brewing Co., the vice president of the Colorado Brewers’ Guild board. “If it passes, it’ll completely junk up the market for craft beers.”

If the legislation passes, Wallace said, independent liquor stores — whose percentage of beer sales is much higher than liquor or wine sales — won’t be able to compete with the lower prices on beer that national chain stores will be able to offer. Also, he doesn’t think chain stores would devote as much shelf space to smaller breweries’ products, so some craft brewers won’t be able to get their products in stores.

“One of the reasons craft beers thrived in Colorado, more so than any other state, is we deal with independent liquor stores,” Wallace said. “It’s certainly going to put liquor stores out of business, and it’s going to put some breweries out of business. It’s also going to make it more difficult for new breweries to get started.”

John Bui — owner of Westview Liquors, near Albertsons on North Main Street — said he sees other reasons why the legislation is a bad idea. Minors would find it easier to buy beer, he said, because grocery store personnel don’t go through training as liquor store employees do.

“I’ve got a feeling there are going to be more accidents because, of course, they’re selling cheaper, easier products, easier access to those products, (and) more kids are going to get drunk,” Bui said.

But Duffy said those arguments don’t hold up. The upcoming bill would allow beer sales only at grocery and convenience stores, and liquor stores would be the only stores to sell liquor and wine.

“We took that argument very seriously a year ago, and at that time we were asking for beer and wine,” he said.

He also dismisses the argument that allowing grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beers will hurt smaller brewers, calling that argument a “defeatist hypothetical.”

Instead, changing the law would open up a huge new market opportunity for the smaller brewers, he said.

Sen. Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, was one of the sponsors of last year’s proposal that would have allowed grocery and convenience stores to sell beer and wine. That bill died in committee.

Shaffer said he hasn’t decided whether he’ll support this year’s proposal but said he’s sympathetic to both sides. He’s particularly sensitive, he said, to doing anything that could harm craft brewers, of which Longmont has two: Left Hand and Oskar Blues.

Given the economic situation in Colorado and nationally, he said, he and his colleagues have more pressing issues to focus on this session, including creating jobs, transportation, infrastructure and education.

“This doesn’t really hit the heart of the agenda, if you will,” Shaffer said.

Link to article.

  • Here is an additional story that I found:

    http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2009/jan/12/battle-brewing-over-bid-to-end-32-sales/

    Interesting Notes:

    * Aside from Colorado, five other states have rules governing sales of 3.2 beer: Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah.

    * Ironically, 3.2 beer is not much different from many regular domestic lagers on liquor store shelves. The alcohol content of regular beers is measured by volume, while with 3.2 beers it’s measured by weight.

    * Coors Light and Bud Light, for example, have an alcohol content of 4.2 percent by volume, according to Realbeer.com. If 3.2 beer was measured the same way, its alcohol content would be listed at 4 percent.

    * The state had banned Sunday liquor sales since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.

    Sean

  • Here’s an additional story on the same topic

    link to article

    Full-strength beer by the numbers
    1,700: Grocery and convenience stores that sell 3.2 beer in Colorado

    1,600: Liquor stores in Colorado

    65-70: Percent of liquor stores sales that are beer

    200: Safeway stores in Colorado

    4.8: Average number of employees per liquor store in Colorado

    19: Percent increase in sales of beer at liquor stores in Colorado since Sunday sales of alcohol were instituted

    16: Percent decrease in sales of beer at grocery stores in Colorado since Sunday sales of alcohol were instituted.

    60: Percent decrease in sales of beer at grocery stores in Colorado since Sunday sales of alcohol were instituted according to grocery store spokesman.

  • D. J.

    It will put most small stores out of business.
    Sunday sales at most small stores has not increased revenue for the store. It just made for a longer week to keep the same amount of revenue coming in. I think it would be better to
    take beer sales out of grocery chains and convience stores and leave it to the liquor stores that actually take pride in keeping alcohol out of the minors hands.

  • Jason

    You know, it’s funny. I am a Colorado resident who just took a month-long trip to Southern California.

    The grocery stores there can sell all manner of liquor, beer, and wine. I shopped at a Whole Foods that had the most amazing wine selection I’ve ever seen outside of somewhere like Liquor Mart in Boulder. You can even go to Sam’s Club or Costco and buy cases of vodka.

    And you know what? There are still PLENTY of liquor stores. You still see them on every corner, in every mini-mall, just like you do here. They seem to be doing just fine with the increased competition from grocery stores. If California’s retailers can handle it, why can’t Colorado’s?

  • Tiffany

    So, will liquor stores be able to sell food now so that they can have other revenue streams other than beer. Convience stores and grocery stores have food revenue that they depend on, liquor stores can only sell alcohol. I would say that would become a complete disadvantange to liquor stores. They depend only on Liquor revenue, nothing else. Why does nobody understand that!!! State liquor laws state that there has to be a certain distance between liquor stores. Most liquor stores that are in a grocery store anchor are within that distance, so by law, grocery stores would not be able to get a full strength liquor license. What about that?

    And…..with the economy the way it is do we really want to see more people lose there jobs. The liquor stores will have to lose employees (and they will lose there benefits)but the grocery stores will not be hiring additional employees. Do we really want to see more empty retail space???

    Other states that have been selling liquor in the grocery stores have been doing it for a very long time. The liquor stores that survive in these states sell many other products in there stores that Colorado liquor stores are unable to sell because of state liquor laws.

    Stand up for the small business owners in Colorado not the huge grocery store chains!

    This is not the time!!!!

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