The state’s new beer laws mean liquor stores' remaining stock has to be sold or destroyed.

By Mike Pomranz
October 25, 2019

Liquor stores across the state of Utah are planning to dump perfectly drinkable unsold beer down the drain after October 31—assuming thirsty residents don’t get to it first. And to help move these suds off of shelves, some stores are reportedly even offering these brews at discounts. Sounds like a Halloween party waiting to happen.

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The pretty unprecedented beer dump is the result of an odd quirk in the law. For years, Utah has been a “low-point beer” state—a now-antiquated, post-Prohibition system preventing grocery stores from selling beer that is above 3.2 percent alcohol by weight (about 4 percent ABV). Stronger beer had to be sold in state-run liquor stores. Earlier this year, Utah became one of the final states to ax its low-point policy, and starting on November 1, retail shops across Utah can sell beer as strong as 5 percent ABV. However, oddly, the rules still state that liquor stores can’t sell the same beers as grocery stores—and so, after October 31, these Utah-owned liquor stores will have to get rid of all their current stock of brews with ABVs between 4 percent and 5 percent.

The good news for beer drinkers is that many liquor stores are apparently selling this extra stock at discounted prices. Though as the Salt Lake Tribune reports, a bit of patience might offer drinkers a sizeable discount as well: Once these same beers hit supermarkets shelves, they should also be significantly less expensive than they were before since they won’t be subject to Utah’s 66.5-percent mandatory markup on beer at liquor stores.

But either way, Rob Southworth, a purchasing specialist with the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, told the Tribune that he believes very little beer will actually go down the drain. “We plan on having very little beer left over,” he was quoted as saying, “and what we destroy will just be odds and ends”—no more than 250 cases, he hopes. Consider it 6,000 12-ounce soldiers lost in the battle for more modern beer laws.

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