Low proof drinks might be trending most places, but in Utah, the big news is all about a higher ABV. Since Prohibition, the only beers widely distributed in the Beehive State have been 3.2% alcohol by weight—until Friday (11.01). Now, Utahns can get crazy and buy 4% by weight (about 5% ABV) brews on tap, in supermarkets, and at convenience stores.
The state was pressured to change the regulation after Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas dropped their own 3.2 beer laws. That left only Utah and Minnesota as 3.2 states.
Keep in mind that over 60% of Utah’s residents belong to the Church of Latter Day Saints which forbids the consumption of alcohol and sugar. So, Utah was not exactly keeping the low proof brew biz afloat and the big breweries announced plans to discontinue their 3.2 offerings. Simultaneously, big box brands like Walmart lobbied legislators to change the reg.
Ultimately, the legislature yielded in March passing SB12. The law represented a compromise between beer enthusiasts and the Church. The measure opened the door for an estimated 100 brands including Miller, Coors, and Budweiser. However, many craft darlings—like the entire IPA category—skew towards higher ABW’s and will still not be allowed.
The only people unhappy with the news may be the state-owned bottle shops, previously the sole purveyor of beer. Over the past few months, the outlets have tried to unload their remaining stocks of 3.2 beer. Still, about 250 cases remained. The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control announced that these remnants were pulled from the shelves and sent to a recycler for disposal.