Even with the stronger beer, the Beehive State will continue to have one of the nation’s strictest alcohol limits. Currently, 18 states have caps on alcohol for beer and wine sold in grocery and convenience stores. The average limit is 12.4 percent ABV, much less restrictive than Utah.
The law also boosts the allowable alcohol content on beer served on tap — sometimes called draft beer — at restaurants and bars.
The increase will trickle down to drinkers, said Jim Olsen, president of the Utah Beer Wholesalers Association. “It always gets passed on to consumers.”
But the increase should be minimal, less than a cent per can or bottle.
A “beer availability work group,” staffed by the DABC, also was created to study issues of availability, alcohol content and retail practices during the next nine months and report findings to legislative interim committees.
Olsen said stores have seven months to figure out how to take 3.2 beer out of the store Oct. 31, so that higher alcohol beer is available Nov. 1.
Beer brewers say they also will use the next seven months to adjust recipes and get new beer labels approved and printed, a process that usually takes months.
Utah’s 3.2 law dates back 86 years. Nine months before Prohibition was officially repealed, Congress passed the Cullen-Harrison Act, which allowed the production of 3.2 percent beer. It was a major step at a time when making alcohol was not allowed. Cullen-Harrison fell away when Prohibition was repealed in late 1933, but many states, including Utah, left the law on the books.
Other bills signed Tuesday by Herbert include:
- HB179, which makes it a criminal misdemeanor to illegally obstruct state or local roadways.
- SB34, which encourages cities to plan for affordable housing development.
- SB147, which requires lobbyists to complete annual courses on workplace harassment and discrimination.
- HB 258, which boosts the penalty for operating an escort service or other sexually oriented business without a license.
- SB32, which provides the option of a public defender to children at essentially all juvenile court proceedings.
- SB161, which makes various corrective changes to the state’s new medical cannabis act. For instance, the bill extends interim decriminalization protections to parents and legal guardians of minors who are qualified cannabis patients.
- SB188, which bars health care providers from conducting pelvic examinations on unconscious patients without their consent, except in certain listed situations.