3.2 beer changes may be coming to Utah, lawmakers hint

Posted at 2:27 PM, Nov 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-09 19:52:11-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Changes may be coming that put heavier beer in grocery and convenience stores in Utah.

At Sophia DiCaro's confirmation hearing to serve on Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, brought up the issue and said it could come up in the next legislative session.

Beer on sale in a grocery store in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas are some of the nation's biggest consumers of 3.2 beer. They've also made legislative or voter-approved decisions to sell heavier brews in grocery and convenience stores.

That will impact Utah, especially if major breweries stop making it. Utahns consume about 26 percent of the nation's 3.2 beer. Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewery, has told FOX 13 it was planning changes.

Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, asked DiCaro what she thought about it.

"Available in the grocery store?" she said. "I think it's nice to be able to have that option in the grocery store. As to the exact policy you're talking about, we'll need to look more at what that entails and what that involves."

Sophia DiCaro speaks to the Senate Business & Labor Confirmation Committee on Nov. 9, 2017. (Image by Todd Gilbert, FOX 13 News)

Lawmakers have been bracing for the impact of a decline in 3.2 beer. Higher-point alcohol beers are only sold in state-run liquor stores and the DABC has repeatedly said it could not handle the higher customer load if 3.2 beer left grocery and convenience stores.

In an interview with FOX 13, Sen. Bramble said there has already been talk of legislation that could move heavier beers into grocery and convenience stores.

"Default I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to that," he said. "But there's a lot of unknowns right now."

RELATED: Lawmakers push back on the idea of a 'single entity' controlling Utah liquor policy

Some of those unknowns include impact to public safety in terms of DUIs and public intoxication, as well as youth alcohol consumption rates.

Sen. Bramble said lawmakers were having discussions about the issue, but he was not aware of a bill file being opened.