Trust me: Beer bill would be a disaster

by DGO Web Administrator

Dear Colorado,

I wasn’t born here, I’m not a native, but, like a lot of transplants to your state, I love everything about you. I love your mountains, I love your rivers, I love your snow, I love your sunshine, I love your open spaces, and I love your cities. I love your beer, I love your love of weed, I love your local food, your local coffee, your local everything, and I don’t want you to change.

Unlike a lot of other recent transplants, I understand why things in Colorado are the way they are, so I’m OK with your quirks and unwritten rules.

These are some of the unwritten rules by which Coloradans abide: The right lane is for slow pokes and scaredy cats, a max limit of two puffs before a pass, there are no friends on powder days, bring your own PFD, and don’t buy beer at the grocery store. This last unwritten rule is up for debate right now and we could see a ballot initiative this November that allows for full-strength beer to be in our grocery stores. But this is a terrible idea Colorado! I know it sounds wonderful, I know it sounds convenient and easy, and I hate being a conservative in an argument and want to be open minded, but this idea Colorado, this is a bad idea.

For a good demonstration of why this would be a bad idea, go to New Mexico. Look at the number of liquor stores there are in Aztec, our closest town. There are zero liquor stores, all have closed, but they allow full-strength beer and liquor in gas stations and grocery stores. The Safeway has an abysmal selection of “craft beer.” By my count there are six craft breweries represented in the entire cooler: Sierra Nevada, Boston Beer Company (Sam Adam’s), Spoetzl Brewing Co. (Shiner Bock), New Belgium, Sierra Blanca Brewing Company (Isotopes Brewing), and Santa Fe Brewing Company. The closest of these breweries to Aztec is Santa Fe Brewing Company, some four hours away. Now, if we imagine this as Colorado, this would be like having only six craft beers in your craft section, and all of them from out of state except two, and both of those are from Denver. There are more local beers on tap at Lady Falconburghs than the entire craft section at this grocery store.

If this is the kind of selection and convenience you want, you can move to Aztec.

Another gripe being levied is that the liquor stores have a monopoly. Now, by my definition and most definitions of “monopoly,” the system we have in place is the farthest from a monopoly. The owners of liquor stores in Colorado are, by law, not allowed to open another liquor store. If you want to grow your business, you can build a bigger store. That’s it. Almost every liquor store in Colorado is a small independent business with one location. If they have another location, it’s in another state.

In the end, the biggest reason to keep things the same are those small businesses. There are 1,650 independent liquor stores in Colorado and if this law changes, nearly half of those would be closed in three years. This would kill jobs and tax revenue. It would kill choice. It would also kill vital outlets for small local craft brewers, vintners, and distillers, stifling the amazing growth of the craft movement. City Market isn’t going to be carrying that really awesome sour from Distihl or Crooked Stave that they have at W.J. Doyle; they’re not going to have the super knowledgeable staff that they have at Star Liquor; they’re not going to have the awesome dog that you can pet at 6th Street Liquor; and they’re not going to have happy hour like they do at Wagon Wheel.

Unless some 11th hour deal gets struck in the state legislature, it’ll likely be on the ballot this November, and it’s up to you Colorado. Don’t let them ruin our small businesses, don’t let them ruin our local beer, don’t let them take our choice.

Robert Alan Wendeborn puts the bubbles in the beer at Ska Brewing Company. His first book of poetry, “The Blank Target,” was published this past spring by The Lettered Streets Press and is available at Maria’s Bookshop. [email protected]

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