Clydesdales help usher in new beer laws

As of Jan. 1, grocery and convenience stores can now sell full-strength beer


The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales visited the Colorado Capitol Dec. 31 to celebrate the repeal, effective New Year's Day, of laws that prevented sales of beer greater than 3.2 percent alcohol by weight in most Colorado grocery and convenience stores.

“We're happy to celebrate this day with Coloradans while the state embraces modern beer laws that will help the Centennial State's vibrant beer industry continue to prosper,” said Greg Sollazzo, Anheuser-Busch regional vice president.

Not everyone was celebrating, though. Some owners of local liquor stores are concerned about taking a possible hit to their sales this year.

The change is due to Senate Bill 16-197, which passed in 2016, which eliminates the two tiers for sales and allows all retailers licensed to sell beer to do so, regardless of alcohol content.

This means Coloradans can now buy full-strength beer at liquor stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations and big box retailers, such as Walmart, Target, Costco and Sam's Club. The hours for beer sales every day are 8 a.m. to midnight.

The new law will not change where wine and liquor and liquor can be purchased. Only licensed liquor stores can sell wine and liquor in Colorado. Hard cider is considered wine under the law, so to find the full-strength versions Coloradans will still need to buy it from a liquor store.

Ben Ammari, manager of Vineland Liquors in north Arvada, said he believes his family-run liquor store will take a 10 percent hit on beer sales over the next year. Their store is located about 10 blocks away from two King Soopers and one Safeway.

"I think the first two to three months are going to show a lot," Ammari said. "We will adapt to what we need to in order to survive. The way I look at it is that hopefully the Colorado community will continue to back the family-owned stores."

Under the new rules, some 1,600 stores will have their licenses automatically upgraded, allowing them to replace their 3.2 percent beer with higher-alcohol content brews. That includes more than 100 stores for both King Soopers and Safeway, according to state records.

Grocers are promising a diverse set of options — including local beer unique to different regions as well as mega-brewers, such as Anheuser-Busch and Coors, and larger craft breweries, including Boston Beer, New Belgium and Sierra Nevada.

“This bill made tomorrow a historic day in Colorado,” said Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker. “We've worked together to bring us to this point. Beer will finally be beer in Colorado.”


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