Beer-loving Utahans might be in a for a fright in the weeks ahead, as some experts predict a potential beer shortage before a new law allowing beer with more alcohol to be sold at grocery and convenience stores takes effect on November 1.
Back in March, lawmakers for the Beehive State passed a bill raising the limit on retail beer from 3.2 percent alcohol by weight to 4 percent, The Sale Lake Tribune reports.
“We’re really excited about it. It’s a big change for Utah,” General Distributing Company president Andy Zweber told Fox 13 of the news. “We’ll be able to get the national versions — the regular production line version of a lot of the brands they distribute — and they won’t have to make a special batch for Utah, so it will make it a lot simpler.”
“There will be temporary out of stocks. It’s kind of inevitable,” Zweber continued. “We’ll do our best to keep our retailers in stock as much as possible, but with a change this big, with this many brands and packages, logistical challenges, there’s going to be some temporary out of stocks.”
Kate Bradshaw, the director of the Responsible Beer Choice Coalition, echoed similar sentiments, agreeing that emptier store shelves could likely be “a growing pain the drinking population just has to endure for a couple of weeks.”
Ahead of potential shortages, Bradshaw said her group is asking the Utah State Legislature to permit heavier beers to be “pre-staged” so that store shelves can be filled quickly on the first day of November.
Two shoppers that Fox 13 recently spoke with at Smith’s grocery store in Salt Lake City said they were looking forward to being able to buy stronger beer.
“It’s about time,” customer Addison Mitchell said. “Honestly, I think it’ll bring better beers into the state from out of state... I know a lot of companies stay away from Utah because of the particulars."
“I think it’s great," Caleb Esmay added. "I mean, nationwide beer is 4.0 nationwide per weight, so it makes sense.”
As noted by the Tribune, Sen. Jerry Stevenson's initial version of the beer bill SB132 would have raised the alcohol cap on retail beer to 4.8 percent - a pitch that was protested by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the state’s predominant faith.