A couple days ago we posted about the upcoming bill that would allow convenience and grocery stores to begin selling beers that are over 3.2% in alcohol in Colorado. We linked to the Summit Economics study that claims Colorado Liquor Stores would lose 50% of it’s sales in the first year alone, and that within three years, 700 liquor stores will close. It also states that 5,500 jobs will be lost in the industry. View that pdf here. I’m emailing Summit Economics right now asking them a little about their data, and how they did their research. See, I’m skeptical of all this, and I’ve expressed my opinion on this blog a couple times. But then again I don’t really know much about economics. Will liquor stores really go out of business because people can buy Fat Tire and Black Butte Porter at Safeway? I doubt it. I imagine liquor stores will suffer, and I imagine that some may go out of business, but not 700, but that shortly thereafter there will be a growth in interest in the microbrewed beer industry. Once people have access to more flavorful beer, they will seek out more examples of it. That’s when the liquor stores will have the advantage. Here’s a post from Open Market claiming that ‘craft brewers have it all wrong.‘
But, I’m also hesitant. I would hate for breweries to suffer because of this bill. Because I don’t actually know what will happen I can’t fully endorse one or the other. So, I’m going to post an email that Bristol Brewing sent to their email list. If you are inclined to think that breweries would be hurt, you should read through this email, and follow up by sending letters to the appropriate people.
KRCC, the Colorado College radio station just posted a brief recap on all that’s been happening if you would like a quick 5 minute radio update. It’s a short interview with Ed Sealover from the Denver Business Journal and Tim Hoover who writes about the issue for the Denver Post. Both believe the bill will hurt the industry, at least that’s what it sounds like. There’s also a brief mention about the funny little law that convenience stores exploited pertaining to bars not being allowed to sell beer under 4%, a bill that was swiftly killed by Hickenlooper (for sure this was a good thing!).
Okay, so here’s the email that Bristol sent out over the weekend (BTW, I’m happy to post arguments and thoughts from each side of the story). Have a read:
Urgent: Help us Save The Ales!
Remember last year when we asked you to imagine a world with no Beerocrats, no Community Ales, and the disappearance of many small Colorado craft brewers?
Well, Colorado craft beers are under attack. Again. And we need your help. For the third time in as many years, legislation has been introduced in the State House that would gut our thriving industry. The bills would eliminate the 3.2 beer that is sold in grocery and convenience stores and allow convenience stores to carry full strength beer. If passed, this would open grocery stores up for the sale of full strength beer. At first glance, full strength beer in grocery stores sounds like a good thing, and that’s what the big corporate lobbies behind these bills want you to think.
The reality, though, is that these bills would be “convenient” for corporations’ bottom lines, but not convenient for you, the consumer. An independent economic report released last year estimates that within five years, 10,000 jobs will be lost and 900 of the state’s ~1600 liquor stores will close. Breweries will lose vital access to market, many will close, seasonal and specialty ales will disappear from shelves, and your favorite Bristol products probably won’t be available at grocery stores.
And in a tricky turn, this legislation just got introduced yesterday and will likely appear in its first committee next week, so time is of the essence. We’ll be working on getting you more information as the situation develops, so please look at our website, check out our Facebook page, or join the conversation — tweet with #SaveTheAles.
Bottom line: this bill isn’t about convenience. For the Colorado economy it’s about lost jobs and profits being sent to out of state corporations. For brewers it means lost market share, layoffs and less flexibility in brewing your favorite beers. For you, it means you will pay more for a smaller selection of beer. Please help us. Call or write your Colorado State Representative, who you can find at votesmart.org (you can use this sample letter here).