What’s Going on with Beer Sales in Colorado? Lots!

  • Tuesday, December 11, 2018
  • 11:45 AM - 1:15 PM
  • Brown Palace 321 17th St.


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The Transition to Higher-Strength Beer Sales in Grocery and Convenience Stores starting January 2019, and Other Major Changes in Liquor Regulation in Colorado

Senate Bill 16-197, signed into law in June 2016, made the most significant changes to the Colorado Beer and Liquor Codes since their codification in 1935 following the repeal of Prohibition. It addressed many aspects of regulating the retail sales of “fermented malt beverages” (FMB), malt liquor, wine, and spirits for off-premises consumption, and unified the definitions of FMB and malt liquor starting January 1, 2019. 

FMB is defined in the Beer Code (§44-4, C.R.S.) and has been sold primarily in grocery and convenience stores, whereas malt liquor is defined in the Liquor Code (§44-3, C.R.S.) and is sold primarily in retail liquor stores and liquor-licensed drugstores, which are additionally authorized to sell wine and spirits. 

FMB and malt liquor have until now been differently defined, with FMB being limited to 3.2% alcohol by weight and malt liquor containing at least 3.2% alcohol by weight. However, SB 16-197 unifies the definitions of FMB and malt liquor, with both to be newly defined in their respective statutes starting in January 2019 as containing not less than one-half percent alcohol by volume, with no upper limit on alcohol content for either. 

Thus, the distinction between FMB and malt liquor that has been in place since the end of Prohibition in Colorado will soon be removed, and beer higher than 3.2% in alcohol content will be sold in grocery and convenience stores throughout the state starting in January.

SB 16-197 made a number of other significant changes in liquor regulation that have already been implemented, such as allowing retail liquor stores to sell a wider array of non-alcohol products and increasing the number of licensed retail liquor store and liquor-licensed drugstore locations a person may hold. 

What effect will these and other changes brought by

SB 16-197 and SB 18-243

have on the various stakeholders involved?

  • State and local regulators – What are their respective roles in liquor regulation, and how are they preparing for the forthcoming changes?      
  • Public safety – What types of alcohol will be allowed in city and state parks in 2019 once FMB is no longer limited to 3.2% alcohol content? What effects might we see to public safety when higher-strength beer is sold in grocery and convenience stores all over the state, rather than only in liquor stores? 
  • Retail liquor stores and liquor-licensed drugstores in Colorado - How are they adjusting to the loss of an exclusive right to sell higher-strength beer? How will it affect their businesses and viability? What are the effects of increasing the number of stores a person may own? 
  • Grocery and convenience stores in Colorado – How are they preparing for selling the new products? How will it affect their businesses?

City Club has gathered a panel of experts to explain these

changes and provide the perspectives of the various stakeholders:

Patrick Maroney 


Liquor Enforcement Division (LED) 

Colorado Department of Revenue

Kevin Bommer

Deputy Director

Colorado Municipal League (CML)

Scott Chase

Partner, Politicalworks and

Lobbyist, Coloradans for S.A.F.E.T.Y.

(Representing retail liquor store interests in Colorado)

Kelli McGannon

Regional Director of Public Affairs and

Government Relations, Western Region

The Kroger Company

Grier Bailey

Executive Director

Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association

(CWPMA) representing convenience store interests 

On the Menu:

Seasonal green salad

Herb Crusted chicken breast with creamy polenta, seasonal veg


Seasonal risotto + roasted vegetables

BP Macaroons & assorted petite desserts

City Club of Denver   PO Box 691, Denver, CO 80201
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