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State liquor stores reduce prices on certain beers to sell them before they’d have to destroy them

(Some of the beers the state will still be able to sell after Nov. 1. Photo: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – They say they don’t want to do it, but, officials with the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control say they may have to destroy beer that’s currently too heavy to sell at convenience stores.  They’re dropping prices to unload as much as they can before the end of the month.

This all stems from the new law that allows convenience stores to sell beer that is 5% alcohol by weight or lower.  That rule kicks into effect on November first.  However, when grocery chains and convenience stores can sell that kind of beer, the state liquor stores will no longer be able to.  So, any beer 5% or lower remaining on state shelves will have to be destroyed by the beginning of next month.

Utah DABC Spokesman Terry Wood says it conjures up images of prohibition.

“Remember the guys pouring the big kegs down the sewer lines out in the street?” Wood asks.

Why does it have to be destroyed?  Why can’t the state just give it away or send it back to the manufacturer?

Wood responds, “That’s the Utah law.  We can’t give it back to the distributor.  We can’t get credit for it.  We can’t take it over to the grocery and convenience stores and say, ‘here.’”

Even if the state was allowed to give the beer to other stores, Wood isn’t convinced the store owners would want it.  He says shopkeepers wouldn’t be able to verify the quality of the beer and they wouldn’t know how well it was stored.  It’s the same reason why the state isn’t allowed to take beer or wine back after it has been sold.

“We don’t know if somebody has had in the trunk of their car for six months, or so,” Wood says.

Officials estimate they won’t have a lot of this kind of beer leftover by the end of October.  Still, they’d rather sell it than dump it.  Woods says they’re reducing the prices of this kind of beer starting Friday.

“We cannot sell below cost.  That’s by law in Utah, too.  But, the discounts will drop down to, maybe, some of them will be just above cost,” he says.