It's no secret Florida has some strange beer laws. Growlers, anyone?
But Colorado? Arguably the center of the American craft beer movement?
Sure, you can buy a to-go beer in the industry standard 64-ounce growler (unlike Florida). You can only fill them at breweries (just like Florida, and unlike "progressive" states like South Carolina). But as I discovered during a recent trip to Colorado, don't go to your local Whole Foods to stock up on Colorado's famous beer.
Unless you're looking for near-beer, slang for beer with an ABV of 3.2 percent of less.
That's right: Colorado liquor and convenience stores can't sell beer stronger than 3.2 percent (who knew anyone even made it anymore, but Colorado isn't alone). Full-strength is sold only at grocery stores, restaurants and bars. Or breweries, of course. And there are plenty of the latter, with "tasting rooms" just like in Florida.
In fact, Colorado law prohibits stores, restaurants and bars from selling near beer, so a brewery doesn't have much incentive to make lower alcohol "session" beers, which tend to become more popular as the temperatures rise.
Last year, when Colorado lawmakers considered changing the laws, throwing out the 3.2 ABV restrictions, self-interest got in the way. As the Denver Post reported, "Liquor stores say out-of-state grocery and convenience-store chains would run locally owned liquor stores out of business if allowed to sell full- strength beer. Small brewers, meanwhile, say the big chains would not carry their products if that happened."
So craft beer fans railing about the crazy Florida growler laws, take heed. Self-interest and crazy beer laws go together. And beer laws can be crazy all over, as Joey Redner wrote back when he was writing about beer instead of brewing it.