Why Craft Brewers Want to Keep Their Beer Out of Convenience Stores

February 2010
Liston, LarryA coalition of liquor store owners and craft brewers joined forces at the state Capitol to protest a proposal that would allow craft beer to be sold in convenience stores (via The Associated Press). But as predicted, a House committee approved House Bill 1186 on a 7-4 vote, despite some qualms that clerks under 21 years old would be handling more alcohol, notes The Denver Post. An old law that allows convenience stores to sell only low-alcohol, 3.2 percent beer---once legal for adults aged 18-20---limits shoppers' choices, says bill sponsor Representative Larry Liston, a Colorado Springs Republican: "I hear from a lot of people who say, 'How come we can't get beer?' ... We really don't have a good answer." The bill permits gas stations and corner stores to sell craft beer and, in turn, would let liquor stores sell snacks and non-perishable food items. Craft brewers oppose the legislation because they feel they won't be represented well on the shelves of major chains. They say local liquor stores work closely with them to make room for their brands. If the bill becomes law, the recession might contain clues to how the market would respond. Conventional wisdom that even in hard times people will drink beer doesn't appear to hold true, according to recent data inspected by BusinessWeek, which suggests Americans are slowing their beer consumption. Americans appear to be getting more selective, however: Sales of craft beers were up by 12.4 percent for 2009.