Craft Brewers Rally for Liquor Stores
The hundreds of varieties of craft beers available in Colorado will dwindle and the sales price for what’s left will jump if a bill allowing grocery stores to sell their products succeeds, local brewers say.
Eighteen of the state’s 100- plus craft brewers rallied Wednesday at the local Great Divide taproom to state that the legislation would drive their biggest buyers – liquor stores – out of business.
Great Divide operator Brian Dunn touted Colorado’s selection of beer as the best in the country.
“Why fix a system that isn’t broken?” Dunn asked. “If this bill passes, local businesses take a hit.”
Proponents of House Bill 1192 argue that there’s plenty of room on store shelves for any type of beer that will sell.
Grocers in beer havens such as Portland, Ore., and northern California make a point to stock microbrews, said Sean Duffy, who’s coordinating the pro-HB 1192 campaign.
What critics are asserting “has no basis in fact,” Duffy said. “It’s all suds and no substance.”
Grocers and convenience stores are allowed to sell only low-alcohol, 3.2-percent beer in Colorado. Liquor stores can sell wine, liquor and full- strength beers like those that craft brewers produce.
The legislation would allow all alcohol licensees to sell full- strength beer. It comes up for its first committee hearing Wednesday.
Eric Wallace of Left Hand Brewing in Longmont said big grocery chains will benefit at the expense of local businesses.
While bigger brewers such as Left Hand may find shelf space for a few of their varieties, startups won’t, Wallace said.
“It seems ludicrous to damage local business in favor of multinational grocery chains,” Wallace said. “We have to sell out to big money from far away? I don’t feel our legislators have any obligation to.”