Utah brewers subject to new step in path to selling beer
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah brewers will have to specially test lower alcohol beer before it can go on the shelves of grocery and convenience stores, adding another hurdle to a list of the state’s tight liquor regulators.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports the state is mandating that lower alcohol beer must be tested to ensure it isn’t exceeding a threshold of 4 percent alcohol by volume.
The testing must be done in a state laboratory before the new beer that is 3.2 percent alcohol by weight hits stores.
“It’s not really an inconvenience for the brewers to send a sample,” said Nicole Dicou, executive director of the Utah Brewers Guild, “but it is another hoop to jump through.”
Dicou said the guild was under the impression that this sort of testing was part of a national push toward standardization.
Paul Gatza, director of the Boulder, Colorado-based national Brewers Association, said he doesn’t know of any other state where beverage regulators require testing of certain beers.
“This is something that would not fly in many states, as it puts an undue burden on the smallest breweries that have the least amount of sales,” he said.
It could also discourage smaller brewers from making special test batches of beer, he added.
The state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control used to send samples to an out-of-state lab. It now is in a joint agreement with the state Department of Agriculture and Food, which has on-site labs.
“Now we are doing our due diligence,” he said. “We want to make sure that anything we list, the alcohol content, is correct per the labeling,” said Cade Meier, department deputy director.
The Utah Legislature last year passed a massive bill overhauling liquor laws. The legislation’s mandates included requiring stores selling light beer obtain off-premise state licenses from the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control before March 2019.
It also put restrictions on beer displays to prevent confusion between nonalcoholic beverages and flavored beers and hard ciders, which might appear similar.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com