Craft brewers and liquor stores prepare for impact of changing full strength beer laws

Posted at 3:45 PM, Dec 26, 2018

COLORADO SPRINGS- Looking ahead to the new year, on January 1st for the first time in Colorado history you’ll find full-strength beer at grocery and convenience stores. Grocery store managers say they can finally give customers what they’ve been asking for, but neighborhood liquor stores fear the change could put them out of business. Meanwhile, craft breweries are watching closely to see how this might impact them.

The experts say 3.2% alcohol beer in Colorado will soon be a thing of the past. In the new year full strength beer is headed for the shelves of grocery stores for the first time. For liquor stores like Cheers Liquor Mart in Colorado Springs who literally shares a parking lot with a grocery store, this change will hurt business.

“You are opening hundreds of other outlets now across the state that have full strength beer. I’ve got one 400 feet behind me that’s gonna be selling beer,” said Jack Backman of Cheers Liquor Mart.

King Soopers stores are preparing to sell full strength beer sending this statement:

“Our customers have asked for a one stop shopping experience, and this will give them the convenience they are looking for. Each store’s selection will reflect the unique neighborhoods and their buying preferences.”

Local craft brewing companies who distribute their beer like Bristol Brewing Company are watching closely to see what happens because liquor stores are an important part of their success.

“I don’t think there’s been a situation in the states where the switch has happened in a market that is so well established with local craft beer. It’s just unprecidented,” said Mike Brisol, of Bristol Brewing Company. “I will say this is probably the biggest change in our industry since I started in 1994 and we just have to be flexible and see how it plays.”

Work is being done in the local beer community to help liquor stores through this change. The hope is limited and special releases of craft beers will help draw customers to their stores instead of the supermarket.