Some hard seltzers will start disappearing from Utah store shelves next week


TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — When newly passed liquor laws go into effect next week, some popular flavors of hard seltzer could begin to disappear from grocery store and convenience store shelves.

At its monthly meeting, the Utah Department’s Liquor Control Commission was briefed on upcoming plans for hard seltzer. The agency will not require that the product be immediately removed from store shelves and sent to state-run liquor stores.

“There will be stores selling products that are not legal after June 1 based on this new definition of beer. So rather than just taking it off the shelves, we wanted to give that buffer zone so that they can sell through their products,” agency spokeswoman Michelle Schmitt said.

The DABC is asking retailers not to order new products that no longer comply, but is giving them until this fall to phase out what they have.

The problem is something FOX 13 News first reported last year.. Utah has a “unique” definition of beer, and hard seltzers don’t exactly match it. The legislature this year changed the definition to allow their sale in grocery stores and convenience stores – but only some of them. It depends on how they’re brewed and whether the flavorings (some, for example, contain ethyl alcohol) included exceed the legal threshold of 5% alcohol by volume.

Hard seltzer makers provide ingredient lists to the DABC so they can determine which flavors should be sold in a state-run liquor store and which can remain on the shelves of grocery stores and convenience stores.

“I think there’s quite a bit of product left,” Schmitt told FOX 13 News.

At Tuesday’s commission meeting, the DABC commission granted a one-time bar license to Wasatch Loft & Tap Room Bar in Park City. There were 16 applicants in total for the license alone. The situation has been a constant source of frustration for the Commissioners, who began urging people to call their elected lawmakers.

“We have companies that are investing heavily in opening a bar in this state. That means going out, entering into a long-term lease with a landlord, also buying furniture, fixtures and other considerable equipment which, like one person who has been passed on to us, is half a million dollars,” said DABC chairman Thomas Jacobson. “And then they come here at the last moment and want a bar license and we have 15 people and a license.”

Due to the demand for a bar license, the state cannot award it based on an “idea” for a bar, but is about to open. Governor Spencer Cox favored increasing the number of bar licenses but the legislator refused to modify the quota, which is one for 10,200 inhabitants. But lawmakers have moved some hotel licenses. As a result, the DABC in June will have nine and a half bar licenses to distribute (the half license is seasonal).

The chairman of the DABC commission said he wanted to hear from the public on how he should award these licenses from a policy perspective.

“Give licenses only to people who are ready? Do they want us to consider the people who work there? Do they want us to license special areas of the state that are underserved? Are they looking for something else like where should we allocate these licenses?” he said.

Comments can be submitted to [email protected] prior to the next DABC committee meeting.

On Tuesday, the DABC commission approved its final list of bar licenses that can be sold to the highest bidder. Eight bars sold their licenses at prices ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. The legislator legalized this option several years ago, but reversed course this year.


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