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Stronger beer arrives in Utah at the stroke of midnight

Liberty Heights Fresh in Salt Lake City, along with many other supermarkets, are selling "old" beer at a markdown in anticipation of the switch to stronger products. PHOTO: John Wojcik, KSL NewsRadio

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Today may be Halloween, but tomorrow is an entirely different holiday for beer lovers in the Beehive State. Grocery and convenience stores around the state are prepping their shelves for the arrival of stronger beer, thanks to a law change.

No pumpkins here – just stronger beer

New rules passed by the legislature allow supermarkets and grocers to sell and stock stronger beer, up to 5% alcohol by volume. Essentially, the change eliminates the need for Utah’s old 3.2% alcohol by weight products.

On the eve of this unofficial hoppy holiday, store owners spent the day trying to liquidate their “old” products.

“We’re trying to close out what we have,” said Steven Rosenberg, owner of Liberty Heights Fresh in Salt Lake City.

His store receives its weekly beer shipment tomorrow, which will feature some new brews.

“Yeah, we’ll put it out tomorrow,” he said.

Easing the transition

Compared to other local stores, Rosenberg says he considers his to be somewhat well-stocked. He says with limited space, Liberty Heights Fresh can’t afford to keep its shelves empty for an extended amount of time.

All stores got a week to receive and store the stronger beer, to help ease the transition tomorrow.

Rosenberg supports the move; he thinks his costumers will enjoy the wider selection of local beer. He believes it’s a good first move, with hopefully more to come.

“You know in Utah we take baby steps. This is a great baby step,” he said. “I’m very grateful to the legislature for allowing this change.”

What happens next

According to him, limiting the stores in terms of what alcohol they can sell forces shop owners to miss opportunities. He says many spirits pair well with the food they sell.

“It would be really nice if all beer, wine, and cider could be sold on supermarket shelves with a deep respect for consumption with moderation,” says Rosenberg.

While retail beer is now capped at 5% alcohol by volume, there will still be beer under that mark available for purchase on supermarket shelves.