May 28, 2008
Because we live in a tourist town, many of us are asked by potential visitors we know about our liquor laws. I was recently asked by someone about the beer in Utah. Here is my response to his question, "Is it difficult to get beer in Utah?":
No, it’s quite simple. People try to make it complicated. All you need to know is that beer is sold in two types of retail establishments: state liquor stores and groceries. State liquor stores are closed on Sundays, holidays, election days, and any other day they can think of a reason to be closed, even fake holidays like Pioneer Day. Groceries are, of course, open all the time, unless you’re in Provo.
The beer in state liquor stores is real beer, meaning over 3.2. The beer in groceries is fake beer, meaning 3.2 and under. Of course, this is 3.2 by weight, not by volume. The beer (real beer) sold in the liquor stores is generally the higher-end stuff, imports and microbrews. The fake beer in the grocery stores is where you’ll find your American standards such as Budweiser and Miller. The fake beer in the groceries is sold cold, but the real beer in the liquor stores is sold warm.
Also, the real beer in the liquor stores is sold by the bottle, with a very high markup. So, if you wanted Guinness, for example, you could go to the grocery store and get the fake Guinness, cold, for about eight bucks a sixpack. But if you wanted real Guinness, you’d go to the liquor store and pay about $15, and it would be warm.
Of course, some people would say that the only real Guinness is on tap, dispensed with nitrogen. In that case, you’d have to go to a bar, a restaurant, or a tavern. What the rest of the world calls bars, we in Utah call "private clubs for members only," which means you have to pay a cover charge (membership charge) for each one you visit. However, you can go to a restaurant, and not pay a cover, as long as you order food. Note that in some restaurants, you cannot drink at the bar.
Also, if you DO want to drink at the bar in the restaurant, you can only have a mixed drink handed to you if there is a separate room in which the bartender mixes drinks out of your sight. If he mixes the drink in your sight, then he cannot hand the drink over to you but must instead walk around to your side of the bar and set it in front of you. Taverns, on the other hand, sell no hard liquor, only beer.
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Oh, one more thing: All tap beer, by Utah law, is fake beer, that is to say, 3.2, so the Guinness thing really wasn’t a very good example.
See, it’s simple.
I’m certain this response will be useful to those reading this who will be asked about our liquor laws.