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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

House Bill 1178 Killed!

State Representative Kevin Priola (R) killed his bill to expand full-strength beer sales in Colorado to grocery and convenience store in multiple locations. The bill would have allowed grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer made by a brewer that produces 6 million barrels or fewer each year, mirroring the commonly accepted definition of a craft brewery. It also would have allowed companies to get as many as five full liquor licenses. At this point, a liquor store owner is only allowed one license in the state of Colorado. Therefore, one person cannot open multiple liquor stores in the state.

Full-strength Beer Bill Goes Flat in the Legislature


Colorado state Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson
Rep. Kevin Priola
Ignorant, in my opinion
While this might seem like a great bill at first, it really could have been detrimental to our Colorado craft brewers. Why wouldn't we want the convenience of picking up our favorite craft brewed six-pack at the grocery/convenience store when we are already there getting our food?

Well, here's the thing. Do you think the big box (Kroger, Safeway, etc.) grocery stores or convenience stores would have carried that favorite craft-brewed six pack of yours? Most of the shelf space in the stores would have  been reserved for the big beer guys and the smaller guys would most likely get squeezed out. How many hoops do you think the craft brewers would have to jump through to get their beer on these shelves, as opposed to just walking into the local liquor store and talking turkey with the local owner? It would have been a cascading effect from there. The local, privately-owned liquor stores would begin to go out of business because their craft beer sales would decrease and therefore the only other outlet for the small craft brewers would have been the grocery and convenience stores, where they may or may not have been able to display their beer. If the small craft brewers cannot sell their beer, they too would soon be forced to shutter. I know this sounds like an extreme result, but it is more possible and realistic than you might think. Therefore, it all goes on down the line and affects more segments of the industry than you think. Now, is all this worth the five minutes you might save picking up beer on aisle 15 as opposed to walking next door to the independent, locally-owned liquor store?

I took some of this from a previous post that I had made in the past because this issue has come up every year for the past 5 years in the legislature, so it is an ongoing topic. Maybe this directive will finally be squashed for good!

Here in Colorado, we have a very special craft brewing segment and we need to preserve that as best we can. We are becoming one of  the craft beer leaders in the country and it is important to our economy and our beer drinkers' freedom to maintain this trend. Hell, Boulder just opened its 19th brewery...19...in a town of less than 100,000 people! That's amazing and speaks to the local, artisan culture that we are creating as brewers and beer drinkers alike.

It also amazes me that Rep. Priola is so ignorant and blind to the damage this bill would have caused to Colorado's local economy. The fact that he would rather support large big box companies that base none of their headquarters in the state as opposed to supporting local small businesses is dumbfounding. How can someone like this stay in office? Hopefully, everyone recognizes his ignorance at the next election.

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