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Even Utahns struggle understanding Utah's dumb liquor laws.

Posted By: TheBaron
Date: Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Here is the correct answer:

The "3.2% beer" thing is BS, born out of deceptive labeling requirements by the state legislature. Everywhere you go, from New York to Munich, alcohol is measured by volume (ABV). The 3.2% limit in Utah is by weight (ABW) and only applies to certain circumstances. When converted from ABW to ABV, 3.2% becomes 4.0%, meaning the 3.2% beer would be labeled 4.0% if purchased in another state. There is no beer available in Utah below 4% ABV, save non-alcoholic beers like Buckler or O'Doul's.

The 4% ABV beer limit applies to all beer sold in grocery stores and all beer available on tap. If you buy beer at a grocery store or get a draft at a restaurant or bar, regardless of what brand or style of beer your order you are getting 4% beer. At the liquor store, however, there is no limit to the alcohol percentage of the beer sold. All of the beer at liquor stores is the same as it would be if purchased in any other state. Even local breweries are able to brew high point beer and sell it in liquor stores and pretty much all of them do just that.

Every bottle of high point beer available at the liquor store is legal to sell in any bar or restaurant that has a liquor license. Whether or not you need to order food depends on whether you are at a bar or a restaurant. If you are at a restaurant, you need to show "intent to order" food before you can be served alcohol. If you are at a bar or club (meaning 21 and over establishments that require ID upon entry), you can order whatever the hell you'd like without having to order any food whatsoever. You can get a shot of Jack and a 9% double IPA at the same time if you'd like. If you want food, many bars choose to serve food, too, but they aren't required to.

To put the 4% ABV grocery store and tap limit into perspective, out of state Guinness is 4.1-4.3% ABV. In Utah, Guinness is 4.0% ABV, which is pretty much identical. Bud Light in a normal state like California or Texas is 4.2% ABV. In Utah, Bud Light is 4.0% ABV, for a difference of only 0.2% ABV. This means drinking a 12 oz Bud Light in Utah is equivalent to drinking 11.4 oz of Bud Light somewhere else. Drinking a six pack of Utah Bud Light has as much alcohol as drinking 5.7 "full strength" Bud Lights. As you can see, the difference is negligible. Many tourists have gotten themselves accidentally $#!+housed believing there is some huge difference in Utah light beer that enables them to drink a lot more than they can typically handle at home.

Of course, getting an IPA on draft in Utah is going to be very different from getting one somewhere else; in many cases several percentage points different with the 4% ABV draft limit. You can get a "real" high point IPA at a bar or restaurant in Utah, but it has to be poured from a bottle. To drink one at home, you have to buy it from the liquor store or physically at the brewery itself. Wine and liquor in Utah, without exception, is the identical product available elsewhere.

Hopefully that answers all of your questions.

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Messages In This Thread

o NEW: So help a brother out. I just got asked again about Utah's watered down beer. Is that still true and what are the facts? (nm)
Duhwayne - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 09:30 pm [ID# 1501147] [reply]
Newbomb Turk icon NEW: I have heard that the 3.2 thing is a weight vs volume deal. I have also heard that really is a difference between "Utah beer" and other beer.
Newbomb Turk - Top 25 Poster -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 09:34 pm [ID# 1501151] [reply]
SeaTacUte icon NEW: I can tell ya when I visit SLC and drink that 3.2 swill, I can pound down beers forever and the only effect is excessive going to the bathroom. I drink 4 Pacific NW micro-brews and I'm calling a cab to get me home. There's definitely a difference. (nm)
SeaTacUte - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 10:16 pm [ID# 1501168] [reply]
TheBaron icon NEW: The difference is that you aren't comparing like with like.
TheBaron - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 11:24 pm [ID# 1501185] [reply]
SeaTacUte icon NEW: If an establishment serves food, they can serve "real" beer. If they don't serve food, then they have to serve 3.2% fake beer. (nm)
SeaTacUte - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 09:37 pm [ID# 1501153] [reply]
o NEW: "By weight" vs, "by volume" sounds like it means something. So grocery store beer is diluted? (nm)
Duhwayne - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 09:57 pm [ID# 1501159] [reply]
SeaTacUte icon NEW: Yup. You have to go to a liquor store to buy real beer. (nm)
SeaTacUte - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 10:06 pm [ID# 1501164] [reply]
o NEW: and it's kept warm because the legislators don't think it needs to be kept cold (nm)
FlyfishingUte - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 10:21 pm [ID# 1501171] [reply]
o NEW: 3.2% by weight is about 4% by volume. Lagers are about 4.4% by volume. Factor in the altitude, it's probably the same effect.
Riot West - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 09:43 pm [ID# 1501156] [reply]
SforkUte icon NEW: 4 words: "buy beer in Idaho" (nm)
SforkUte - Top 25 Poster -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 09:53 pm [ID# 1501157] [reply]
o NEW: Not Evanston? I thought that's what it was for. (nm)
Duhwayne - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 09:57 pm [ID# 1501160] [reply]
Newbomb Turk icon NEW: Fireworks and porn. (nm)
Newbomb Turk - Top 25 Poster -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 10:10 pm [ID# 1501166] [reply]
TheBaron icon NEW: Even Utahns struggle understanding Utah's dumb liquor laws.
TheBaron - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 11:01 pm [ID# 1501179] [reply]
UtahUte72 icon NEW: Please don't pass this analysis along to the State Legislature or we will have water in beer cans. (nm)
UtahUte72 - Top 25 Poster -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 11:06 pm [ID# 1501180] [reply]
o NEW: it doesn't answer why the idiots on The Hill insist on storing beer warm. The ONLY argument for that I have heard was Mike Waddoups?
FlyfishingUte - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 11:08 pm [ID# 1501182] [reply]
TheBaron icon NEW: Honestly, it's because refrigeration costs money and would cut into their profit margins.
TheBaron - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 11:29 pm [ID# 1501186] [reply]
o NEW: Yeah because an 86% markup just isn't enough.
FlyfishingUte - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 11:36 pm [ID# 1501187] [reply]
o NEW: It's been this way since Brigham Young. Ban gentile breweries so people would buy Mormon Valley Tan. State liquor stores are the same deal. Too immoral a business to allow others to enjoy its profits.
Duhwayne - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 11:49 pm [ID# 1501189] [reply]
HoyaUte icon NEW: The cold case at Epic on State Street is a beautiful thing. (nm)
HoyaUte - -- Saturday 23 March 2013, at 11:56 pm [ID# 1501192] [reply]
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