Free Corona Light! Let Colorado's restaurants and bars serve any beer!
My e-mail this morning contained not one, but two messages mocking Corona Light, my beer of choice. Make that "almost-beer" of choice, corrects a friend. Another wrote that he would not be voting for a certain mayoral candidate, who was photographed drinking Corona -- and that bottle was at least full-strength!
Unlike Corona Light, Corona is not an endangered species, because it definitely qualifies as full-strength legally, if not in some beer drinkers' minds. But Corona Light, as well as many other lower-alcohol beers, is still being held hostage by Colorado's arcane liquor laws -- and the fight over them at the legislature.
At this point in the session, it may be impossible to reconcile the division between liquor-store owners and craft brewers, and grocery stores and convenience stores. The liquor stores are worried about losing too much business (and too many jobs) if the grocery and convenience stores are allowed to sell not just 3.2 beer, but any beer. The craft brewers are worried that their specialty beers will not be the ones stocked at grocery stores and convenience stores. And then there's the whole sideshow about how the alcohol content of beers is determined.
Stuck in the middle are the restaurants and bars that, by law, are not allowed to sell beers unless they have been tested as more than 3.2 percent alcohol by volume and 4.0 percent by weight. While Colorado distributors are working to make sure they can make all types of beer available at the appropriate level (some brewed specially for this state's laws), is there really any reason to have restaurants and bars be a front in this fight?
The Colorado Restaurant Association thought it had a fix this legislative session, before the brewhaha over craft-beer tests blew up into front-page headlines. And even this weekend, when the Denver Post's Perspective section ran four pieces on the debate, none of them really dealt with the restaurant issue.
No one going into a restaurant or bar for a beer is taking business away from any store -- and in other states, serving customers lower-alcohol beers might be applauded, rather than threatened with punishment.
Even if it is Corona Light.