A newly-enacted law lets grocery stores sell beers that were previously only available at state-run liquor stores.

By Jelisa Castrodale
Updated December 19, 2019

In March of this year, Utah governor Gary Herbert signed off on a stack of bills, including one that would make it a misdemeanor to block a state or local roadway, one that upped the penalty for running an unlicensed "sexually oriented business," and one that increased the maximum allowable alcohol by volume (ABV) on beer sold in grocery stores from four percent to five percent—previously, stronger beer was only sold in state-run liquor stores. After Herbert capped his pen, the state's liquor stores were advised that they would have to figure out how to get rid of any beer between four- and five-percent ABV before the new law went into effect on November 1, so as not to pit the government and private retailers against each other.

Utahns were told to brace themselves for the worst, mostly dwindling or non-existent lower-ABV beer supplies in liquor stores near the end of October. But once November came, brands like Newcastle Brown Ale, Stella Artois, and Samuel Adams Boston Lager would all be available at supermarkets and convenience stores—and those same brews would be cheaper when they were moved into other retailers and no longer subject to the state's 66.5-percent markup on so-called "heavy beers."

Credit: Souders Studios/Getty Images

However last Friday, this entire situation took a turn for the heartbreaking when 275 cases of bottles and cans were taken from a warehouse in Salt Lake City to Wasatch Resource Recovery on the north side of the city. There, on that property, all 275 cases—almost $18,000 worth of now-discontinued beer—were poured out.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the sad situation was a necessity, because the beer could no longer be sold after the law change. Instead, its aluminum cans and glass bottles were all emptied and will be recycled. The beer itself went into an aerobic digester, where it will eventually be turned into natural gas or used as fertilizer.

"If you can’t buy it and you can’t drink it, this is the best place for it," the facility's sustainability manager Morgan Bowerman told the Tribune.

In our hearts, we know that's true, but it's still hard to take. Hopefully someone grabbed one of those beers and solemnly poured it out on its own, in memory of the bottles and cans in those 275 cases. Goodnight, sweet low-ABV prince.