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.



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.

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