Veterans Liquors near Austin Bluffs Parkway and Academy Boulevard created Broncos-inspired craft beer six-packs
Veterans Liquors near Austin Bluffs Parkway and Academy Boulevard created Broncos-inspired craft beer six-packs

Consumers soon will be able to grab their six-packs of full-strength beer at grocery and convenience stores in Colorado.

Starting Jan. 1, retail locations can sell beer over 0.5 percent as opposed to the previously only being able to sell 3.2 percent beer, according to a Tuesday press release from the Colorado Department of Revenue.

That means that grocery stores and convenience stores can sell full-strength beer, as it’s higher than .5 percent alcohol.

“These new regulations are some of the largest, sweeping changes to the state’s liquor laws since prohibition,” said Patrick Maroney, Liquor Enforcement Division director, in the release. “The Liquor Enforcement Division has worked with our stakeholders, licensees, and local partners to educate and inform those impacted by the liquor law changes about what they can expect in 2019. Since 2016, we have identified how the new regulatory framework will affect manufacturers, wholesaler, retailers and consumers in Colorado.”

The changes to the state liquor laws were part of legislation passed in 2016 as part of SB16-197 and expanded on in 2018 with SB18-243.

“The changes to the governing enforcement laws of the liquor industry in Colorado are complex and affect a variety of activities concerning the manufacturing, selling and purchasing of beer,” the release said. “Other areas affected by the new laws include deliveries, cost of goods sold, the age of employees, purchasing and distribution practices, license types, ownership, tasting, distance restrictions, and public consumption.”

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The new laws “significantly” impact the liquor industry as well as consumers, the release said.

Changes to the liquor laws that affect consumers include:

  • Starting on Jan. 1, consumers will be able to purchase beer over 0.5 percent sold at retail locations that previously sold only 3.2 percent beer. New retailers may also begin selling beer after Jan. 1, as long as they derive, at least, 20 percent of their gross total sales annual revenues from the sale of food items for consumption off their premises.
  • Wholesalers and manufacturers cannot deliver beer to grocery stores until after midnight on Dec. 31; consumers may see empty shelves and areas in stores before New Year’s Day as retailers prepare for the change. Consumers can purchase beer over 0.5 percent at grocery and convenience stores starting at 8 a.m. on Jan. 1.
  • Where consumers can buy wine, sake, malt liquor and spirits has not changed. Changes to recent liquor laws only affect beer sales. Malt, vinous or spirituous liquor may be purchased at licensed retail liquor stores or Liquor-Licensed Drugstores (grocery stores with LLDS license, and an attached pharmacy, permitted to sell all types of alcohol).
  • The new law does not allow consumers to purchase beer at a self-checkout without assistance from and completion of the entire transaction by an employee of the licensed retail location.
  • Lower percentage strength beer (3.2 percent beer) may still be available in Colorado after Jan. 1, as retailers may want to offer this option for consumers and as the market demands the product. However, there is no mandate that retailers sell beer 3.2 percent or less.
  • After Jan.1, employees have to be at least 18 years of age to handle alcohol. The age to purchase alcohol has not changed and remains 21 years and older.

Go to colorado.gov/pacific/enforcement/liquor-sb16-197-sb18-243 for more information.