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Beer and Politics: Should Colorado allow full strength beer to be sold in convenience stores?

This post written by Isaac.

Should Colorado allow full strength beer to be sold in convenience stores?

That is the question that seems to spring up in Colorado every year. This week Representative Larry Liston, a Republican from Colorado Springs, introduced a bill [this is a pdf] that would undo long-standing laws that prevent grocery and convenience stores from selling beer stronger than 3.2% alcohol. This bill was proposed a week after the Colorado Department of Revenue retracted a ruling made in 2010 that required the department to enforce rules that restricted bars and liquor stores from selling beer under 3.2% alcohol (the Berliner Weisse sales must have been getting out of hand!). If this new bill is passed, the changes could be implemented as early as July 1, 2012. You can read more of this battle over beer sales here.

I’ve heard the pros and cons from countless sources if this bill is passed including a plea from Eric himself, and here are a few of the arguments:


  • Convenience of getting beer and food at the same place for food-beer pairings (I can vouch that this is handy having lived near a Heinen’s in Ohio that would have a card next to most of their beers explaining the style and what food pairs well with the beer)
  • Introducing craft beer to a larger audience.
  • Decreasing carbon footprints
  • California already does this and they have great variety in beer
  • Bringing in new grocery stores that cater more with craft beer (i.e. Trader Joe’s)
  • Small independent grocery stores, such as Mountain Mama’s could carry organic and local beer for their customers. It doesn’t have to be just large stores like Safeway


  • According to one independent study (pdf), between 400-700 liquor stores in Colorado would close
  • Beer profits would leave Colorado to out-of-state corporate grocery headquarters
  • Decrease in selection of beer if independent boutique liquor stores (i.e. Coaltrain Wine and Spirits) were forced to close due to loss of sales.
  • Small microbreweries would have fewer places for distribution

I’m not writing this article to get on my soapbox and voice my opinion. I’m hoping this article with start some debate in the comment section to add to the pros and cons. I have a feeling this bill will be passed soon given the recent passing of allowing liquor stores to be open on Sundays. Let the debate commence!

Written By

Eric teaches art, loves being outdoors, and organizes beer events around the country. He founded Focus on the Beer and Beers Made By Walking.


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