Chug, chug, chug: Larry Liston's beer bill goes down quick

Categories: Beer Man

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Larry Liston at the introduction of the bill at King Soopers.
Many of the people who work in Colorado's craft beer industry believe that brewer-in-chief Governor John Hickenlooper would never sign a bill allowing grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer -- even if the legislature passed it.

Now they won't have to worry about it -- at least not this year.

On Monday, the state House of Representatives killed HB 1284, which had been introduced by Representative Larry Liston, a measure that would have allowed the chain's stores to sell full-strength beer at all of its locations rather than just one.

It was the fourth such bill to be introduced in the past four years and the first to make it out of a committee hearing and onto the house floor. The vote was a solid 18-47.

Those in favor of the bill said it would have made shopping more convenient for consumers and erased the convoluted system of regulations that separates beers that are 3.2 percent alcohol by weight (or 4.0 by volume) from stronger suds. Groceries and convenience stores are only allowed to sell 3.2 beer. Proponents also said the measure would have leveled the competitive playing field and created union jobs.

Opponents, however, believe the idea would have put hundreds of liquor stores out of business and killed thousands of jobs. Craft brewers said the loss of those liquor stores would have made it very difficult for them to continue enjoying the sales and success they have been enjoying over the past couple of years.

In the meantime, a bill that would allow only smaller convenience stores to sell full-strength beer is still alive in the Senate.

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7 comments
bizzygeek
bizzygeek

This is ridiculous. There are plenty of states where grocery stores are allowed to sell full strength beer and wine and where there are also viable liquor stores. Anytime the government artificially reduces competition through regulation, it's just a way for consumers to pay hidden subsidies. Why do liquor store owners deserve that? I love beer more than the next guy but I don't endorse protecting their margins at my expense. There's no community welfare in that.

Jimrome
Jimrome

Protect their margins? Most liquor stores make .80 on a 12pack. Grocery store chains can use beer as a loss leader or lower their prices in the short turn to drive out the mom and pops and then raise their prices. Look what grocery stores did to Florists, video stores, pharmacies, etc. Are we really better off? It might save you a few dollars in the short run but in the long run one less independently run industry will leave consumers longing for the day of the locally run liquor store.

Drew
Drew

Jimrome - I assume you've never ordered from Amazon (bye-bye, Borders), or Netflix (bye-bye, Blockbuster), or any other internet retailer that competes with local businesses. Your logic criticizing grocery stores applies equally well towards criticizing any other sort business that competes with local brick and mortar stores. Perhaps you should be lobbying the legislature to stop Internet sales in CO - just think of all the jobs it would create!

bizzygeek
bizzygeek

Liquor stores would still have a monopoly on hard liquor, so unless people give up on that, they're not going the way of the video store anytime soon. Those liquor stores who are strong will survive anyway, as is ALREADY the case in states where grocery chains are allowed to sell beer and wine. As to beer and wine, independent stores will have to focus more on specialty items and give more shelf space to craft beer and will always have a wider variety of wines. Grocery chains can't afford to have the variety that a dedicated liquor store can house, and those consumers who demand that variety will still patronize liquor stores. And if there's ever a day where consumers are longing for more locally run liquor stores, and they're willing to pay a premium for that experience then that demand will create space for new market entrants. Who wants to have to make a separate trip when all you want is a 12 pack of Fat Tire?

bob b
bob b

Who care about a "monopoly on hard liquor" when 60%-70% of revenue for any given liquor store comes from beer produced by either inbev (anheuser-busch) or miller-coors. Those are exactly the brands that grocery stores would fill their refrigerated aisles with, and would be more than enough to drive most liquor stores out of business. That would mean a loss of half the the potential new audience for craft beers and a blow to a great local industry....and there are plenty of government regulations in place that unfairly favor inbev and miller-coors over small brewers, so I have no problem with rules like this one that help level the playing field a bit.

Mantonat
Mantonat

If they are worried about protecting jobs, why don't they start with not slashing education funding by $350 million so that hundreds of teachers won't be laid off. If they are just worried about liquor stores, they could pass this bill but still keep the law that doesn't allow liquor store chains, so that the big players like Target, King Soopers, etc., would still be allowed only one location in the state to sell full-strength beer and wine.

GFTW
GFTW

That sucks.

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