Utah retailers and consumers recently celebrated the demise of 3.2 beer.
Governor Gary Herbert signed SB132 into law earlier this year, modifying the alcohol percentages allowed to be sold in stores. Prior to the change, stores could only sell beer with 3.2 percent alcohol by weight, but the Utah State Legislature proposed a bill to increase the limit to 5 percent alcohol by volume, or 4 percent alcohol by weight.
The new law took effect Nov. 1.
Kate Bradshaw, a lobbyist and media consultant with the Utah Retail Merchants Association, explains that this movement has been in the making for over 80 years, letting Utahns experience new items that would normally require travel outside the state to acquire.
“It’s definitely a positive for the beer consumer and stores in terms of the products you can offer customers,” Bradshaw says.
Within the first 15 days of the law’s effect, Bradshaw explains that buyers and stores are seeing an impact on the way Utah now handles their beer products.
“New products hit the shelves in every category. It’s rare that a whole line of an aisle has such a potential to shift and change,” Bradshaw says. “Within the next quarter, retailers can experiment with things that they haven’t been able to sell in stores or out of liquor stores and [put an] emphasis [on] what the Utah consumer is interested in.”
With the new law in place, store shelves emptied as lower-percentage beer products sold out. The Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control will destroy any unsold beer left in Utah retail stores. The DABC also allowed merchants to discount any leftover product due to the inability to compete with the availability of new products.
With the death of 3.2 beer, many shoppers saw heavier brews being moved out of state-run liquor stores to make their way onto retail store shelves. Not only are beer consumers excited about the change, beer distributors are seeing advances in their sales.
The night before the new law went into effect, the Budweiser Clydesdales made an appearance in Utah for a “funeral” being held in honor of 3.2 beer.
“Rest in peace 3.2 beer. Bud HEAVY IS HERE!” Budweiser said in an announcement.
Anheuser-Busch, one of the leading breweries in the nation, had been warning Utah to dump 3.2 beer and allow for higher strength beer to be sold outside of liquor stores. The new legislation does exactly that.
Oklahoma and Kansas also made the same change recently, matching the rest of the states by selling 5 percent beer, leaving Minnesota as the only state with a 3.2 percent beer law.