Utah legislators reach tentative compromise on sales of stronger beer

Photo: Andrew Burton (Getty Images)

It’s been a long, strange trip to get stronger beer to Utah stores. The Beehive State—yep—has some of the most stringent beer laws in the country, requiring beer sold at grocery and convenience stores to come in below 3.2-percent alcohol by weight, or about 4 percent alcohol by volume. This legislative session saw some real movement toward raising that threshold, but not without opposition from groups ranging from the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints to the state’s craft brewers’ guild. The church opposed it on moral grounds, while the guild opposed any cap on alcohol content at all. Strange bedfellows, no? These disparate groups may finally have reached consensus, though, as the Utah House has kicked a compromise bill back to the state Senate, which could vote on it today.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports the compromise bill would raise the alcohol-by-weight cap to 4 percent, not the 5 percent some had hoped for. That bump to about 5 percent ABV would cover most of the mass-market beers the rest of the country drinks, such as Coors Banquet (5 percent ABV), Coors Light (4.2 percent ABV), Budweiser (5 percent ABV), Miller Lite (4.2 percent ABV) and Bud Light (4.2 percent ABV), but would still exclude plenty of craft beers and higher-strength macro beers like Bud Light Platinum.

This legislation represents a compromise between the 5-percent alcohol by weight supporters and critics who last week nearly killed the House version of the bill entirely. Even if the current legislation passes the Senate and is signed by the governor, Utah would still have some of the nation’s strictest beer laws.

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About the author

Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.