Colorado Looks to Leave the “3.2 Beer Club”

If you're not from a handful of Midwestern states, you’ve likely heard a friend or co-worker mention that they “can only get 3.2 beer back home” and wondered what they were talking about.

“3.2 beer” (or “low-point beer” as it’s commonly known) is beer that contains approximately 3.2% alcohol by weight. In many ways, 3.2 beer is a vestige of the past, as it was first introduced in 1933 when the Volstead Act was repealed. Back then, 3.2% was the highest alcohol content allowed at the time.

After Prohibition was repealed, several states still had laws prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors that remained on the books. As these states slowly repealed their versions of prohibition, certain laws remained. For example, to this day Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Utah still require that any alcoholic beverage containing more than 3.2% alcohol by weight may only be sold by a state-licensed liquor store. For anyone hoping to buy a six-pack of IPA's at the grocery store on their way home from work, this law has been very frustrating in its 82 year existence.

However, the “3.2 club” may soon be losing a member, as Colorado is set to vote on whether it should repeal the rule and join the majority of states that allow grocery stores and convenience stores to sell beer with more alcohol.

An organization pushing to allow higher alcohol beer and wine sales into grocery and convenience stores recently filed the necessary documents to put the issue on the ballot. The measures were filed by Denver Deputy District Attorney Blake Harrison and former Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson. In a statement, Harrison said: “[l]ike residents of the 42 states that allow Colorado beer or wine in their grocery stores, Coloradans deserve the ability to buy their favorite beer or wine at their local market.”

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