SALT LAKE CITY -- "Now available!" the sign proclaims.
Mike's Hard Lemonade and Lime-A-Ritas have started appearing on grocery store shelves after an absence of several years.
FOX 13 viewers noticed them in grocery stores about a week ago. Since then, we've been asked "why?"
In 2008, lawmakers passed a law that made "flavored malt beverages" illegal to be sold in grocery stores over concerns that "alcopops" were too much of a temptation for children. Mike's Hard Lemonade, Bartles & Jaymes and similar products were moved to state liquor stores.
When FOX 13 asked the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control what changed, we were told Mike's Hard Lemonade and Lime-A-Ritas no longer met the legal definition of a "flavored malt beverage." DABC Compliance Manager Nina McDermott said the formulas for the beverages were altered so they are now classified as "beer."
The DABC would not say what exactly in the formula was changed (it could be proprietary information) but the method and ingredients were altered to reflect Utah's law. The drinks are also at 3.2% alcohol strength.
"It is my understanding that they did want to be able to sell these alcohol products in the grocery stores and in order to be able to do that, they have to be classified as beer," McDermott told FOX 13. "They have also made the decision to make those changes so they can be sold in the grocery store. Since we don't compete with what's sold in a grocery store, they're now taken out of liquor stores."
The Utah State Legislature could certainly change the law again to put the products back in liquor stores, but for now they are in grocery stores.