Wednesday 28 January 2009

Real Beer May be Real Bad for Local Economy

Greetings Coloradan!

I don’t really know where my readership, if indeed I have any, comes from, but even if you are not from Colorado you may still find this article interesting.
I am writing in response to the recent push to legalise the sale of “real beer,” that is beer with alcohol content in excess of three and two tenths percent by volume, in grocery stores, convenience stores, and other establishments which were previously restricted to the sale of “near beer,” beer with an alcohol content of no more than three and two tenths percent by volume. An oversimplified explanation of the conflict would be 7/11 vs. Local Liquor. Both sides of the argument have valid points,

Supporters of the current laws are most likely to cite protection of the local economy, protection of youth, and preservation of selection as their primary grounds for maintaining the current regulations. I would like to examine these claims one at a time. Colorado law is very strict about what liquor stores can and cannot do. Liquor stores may not carry most food products, must carefully control who they sell too, and were formally forced to remain closed on Sundays. Additionally, the ability of liquor stores to form chains is severely restricted. All these factors have worked together to create a locally owned liquor industry composed mostly of mom and pop style stores with a few larger stores mixed in. Some offer convenient locations; some offer unmatchable selections. Opponents of the repeal of our current laws fear that if grocery stores were permitted to sell full strength beer, it would cut into the profit margins of the local stores, and would also reduce the selection of beers available. While a grocery store is probably going to carry only Budweiser, Keystone Light (otherwise known as watered down piss), and Coors, a locally owned liquor store, which only sells alcohol, is far more likely to carry hard to find, local, and exotic products like Warsteiner, Phantom Canyon, Gruenfelder, Bristol, etc. Both the preservation of this selection and the protection of these local businesses are likely to benefit customers and independent businessmen in Colorado. Another argument likely to be cited by opponents of the change in our alcohol laws is that by increasing the amount of outlets licensed to sell real beer, we will be making it easier for underage drinkers to obtain alcohol. It is plain and evident to anyone who has not purposefully deluded themselves into believing otherwise, that the National Minimum Drinking Age Act is an utter, complete, ridiculous, and ludicrous failure. Rather than making things safer, the MLDA has had the effect of pushing teen drinking underground into more dangerous situations, and rather than teaching moderation and responsibility has enshrined alcohol as the “forbidden fruit” of twenty-first century America. There are very few countries with drinking ages near as high as ours, yet many of them have less of a problem with irresponsible consumption of alcohol than we do. I would argue that parents should set a positive example in their own drinking habits and raise their children to do the same. It should not be a crime to pour a twelve year old a glass of Champaign on New Year’s Eve. Every young person should experience puking their guts out into a toilet, or falling down a flight of stairs at least once in order to foster a respect for alcohol and the responsibility that comes with its consumption. So while these lobbyists may have other valid arguments, the protection of youth is absolutely invalid.

While supporters of the law cite their various grounds for it to be upheld, opponents are not without arguments of their own. Proponents of the liberalisation of Colorado’s alcohol laws are likely to cite increased competition and fair business practices in support of their position. The change in laws would also have the desirable effect of making alcohol more visible possibly diminishing its taboo status in American society which has contributed to our generally unhealthy view of its consumption, and the unhealthy patterns of consumption often prevalent among College Students and others. Proponents of the free market (don’t get me started) would likely argue that by repealing these blue laws, we will create more competition which would drive down the price of beer. They may be correct, but as previously stated, this would not be the only effect. Also, they allege that it is an injustice that the liquor companies are permitted to sell full strength beer while the grocery stores are restricted to near beer. This makes me wonder if they would support legislation permitting liquor stores to sell food and other items in addition to liquor.

The liberalisation of alcohol laws in Colorado is a complex issue, and the many faceted arguments do not lead to any concrete conclusion, but rather raise more questions and beg us to furthur examine the issues at hand. One thing is certain: the US as a whole needs to rethink its attitude toward the consumption of alcohol and bring it more into line with logic, and that of the rest of the world.

Photo Credit: piffy under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic


  1. If parents did their job, we would have far less problems with underage drinking. People are hopeless in these times. Mainly because they lack Christ, secondly because parents do not love nor discipline their children anymore. We are supposed to be our children's friends rather than their authority figure...this country need's Jesus.

  2. "If parents did their job"?
    If pigs flew!
    We are not in a position to say "well parents should do this and that"
    This is a triage system people!
    And as to the original post, the last phrase makes me laugh
    "America rethink" "in line with logic" "the rest of the world"
    WISHFUL THINKING! America will never conform to the world, and it will never be logical.
    America is STUPID and HARDHEADED!
    As one who works in a grocery store, I've seen firsthand the effects of the restrictions
    King Soopers cannot sell any alcohol after midnight (or maybe 2AM) and on Sundays
    The register will physically not allow it.
    I think that's archaic
    As to the liquor stores, I like the mom and pop shops