The drought is over for Utah — at least when it comes to purchasing cold beer in liquor stores.
On Tuesday, the first state-run store to offer refrigerated beer opened in Taylorsville.
It won’t be the last.
On opening day, the 13,00-square-foot Taylorsville store, 4455 S. 2700 West, had 10 coolers filled with beer, as well as popular spiked seltzers and flavored malt beverages.
A walk-in refrigerator should be completed by the end of the summer to expand the offering of cold beverages, said DABC Executive Director Tiffany Clason, who took over the agency in January.
“Offering cold beverages is a common sense business decision,” she said during a press conference attended by state and city officials.
Utah’s policy of selling warm beer has been the number one complaint of liquor store customers for years, according to numerous surveys.
What’s in the coolers will be prioritized based on sales, Clason said, but small “Made in Utah” shelf signs should make it easy for customers to find locally-produced brews.
The addition of refrigeration is good for beer brewers, said Jeremy Ragonese, president of the Uinta Brewing Company.
“We’re elated that the DABC included the use of coolers in their new store, and we hope to see more integrated into existing stores,” he said. “The harmful effects of warm storage on beer is common knowledge, and this one change represents a significant leap in supporting the beer-drinking public with options that prioritize freshness and quality.”
The new Taylorsville store was constructed next to the Calvin Rampton complex that houses the Utah transportation and public safety departments as well as the Utah Public Health Lab. It’s also about a half mile south of the new temple being built for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
DABC officials said the new store is expected to generate $4 million in its first year of operation including about $40,000 in sales tax just for Taylorsville City.
While this will be the first time a state-run liquor store sells refrigerated beer, Utah consumers can get cold brews at local breweries and a few contract stores — officially called package agencies — located in hotels, resorts and many rural areas of the state.
Under state laws, Utah liquor stores must sell beer that has more than 5% alcohol by volume. Lower-alcohol beer is sold in grocery stores.
Rep. Timothy Hawkes, R-Centerville, who co-sponsors most alcohol policy bills in the Legislature, attended the event. He said the DABC was able to make the change operationally, rather than asking for a change to state code.
But an alcohol policy working group did give its approval — deciding that it was a consumer benefit that would not increase underage consumption.
Correction: This story has been updated to include accurate sales numbers from the DABC.