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Cold beer is now available in two Park City liquor stores

DABC Coolers
Newly installed DABC coolers

The beer shelves were empty for about a week in the Swede Alley liquor store while coolers were being installed. Carolyn Murray has this report on buying cold beer and new liquor laws effective June 1.

If you were looking for a good IPA with an alcohol content higher than 5% or any beer at all - and you walked into the liquor store in Old Town, Park City last week, you would have seen signs in English and Spanish saying no beer here.

The shelves were temporarily empty while the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control installed beer coolers in two Park City liquor stores. The Swede Alley and Snow Park stores now sell cold beer. DABC Communications Director Michelle Schmitt said the decision to put coolers in Utah’s liquor stores was made by the Alcohol and Beverage Control Executive Director Tiffany Clason, not the Utah legislature.

“The decision is that moving forward any new liquor stores that are built in Utah will include coolers as part of our standard business model. Additionally, this is what you're seeing in Park City. As funding is available, we are retrofitting existing stores to include coolers there as well.”

The legislature made nearly two dozen changes to Utah’s alcohol laws during its 2022 session. Notably, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is getting a new name: On June 1, it will be rebranded as the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services.

Schmitt said the commission wants to emphasize its focus on providing service to customers and hospitality businesses.

“We work with our customers who come to our state liquor stores to legally and safely purchase products. We also work heavily with restaurant and bar owners. These range from small business owners and larger companies that work in the hospitality and tourism industries. And we really see ourselves as having a partnership with these business owners and take our role seriously to help them to succeed.”

Lawmakers have also changed the definition of beer based on how products are made, and which ingredients are included. This new regulation will affect hard seltzers sold in grocery and convenience stores - depending on the ingredients and added alcohol, some seltzers will have to be sold through state-run liquor stores.

“We believe that there will be a little under half of the existing seltzer products that are currently sold in grocery and convenience stores that will no longer be allowed for sales in those stores based on the changes. So now we're going back to manufacturers to make sure that we know how their products are made so that we have that clear understanding of what is allowable for sale in grocery and convenience stores and what isn't.”   

Starting June 1, restaurants and bars will be allowed to sell beer to go. The container must be sealed and no larger than 2 liters. Customers purchasing beer to go from a restaurant are required to eat there before taking the beer home.

“A customer can take more than the two liters total as long as it's not in one container, and I think a growler is about two liters.”

Juneteenth, a new state holiday, will close liquor stores commemorating when the last enslaved people were freed in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865. The holiday will be recognized on a Monday close to the 19th.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.