DENVER
03/17/2011 06:43 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Colorado Beer Regulations: Interest Groups Use St. Patrick's Day To Lobby Respective Positions

Politicians and trade groups are seizing on the occasion of St. Patrick's day to argue their positions on a very relevant issue for Coloradans celebrating the holiday: the ability of grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer.

Representative Larry Liston, a Republican from Colorado Springs, introduced a bill this week that (Senate Bill 1284 PDF) would undo long-standing laws that prevent grocery and convenience stores from selling beer stronger that 3.2% alcohol by volume.

Liston's introduction of SB 1284 came a week after the Colorado Department of Revenue--at the behest of Governor John Hickenlooper, a former brewpub owner--altered rules established in 2010 that required the department to enforce rules that restricted bars and liquor stores from selling beer with under 3.2% alchol.

On Thursday, Liston stumped for his bill at a a Denver King Soopers--the only one in the state that is allowed to sell full-strength beer. Westword's Cafe Society quoted Liston calling Colorado's complicated liquor laws a "problem that annoys and confuses consumers."

Meanwhile, the Colorado Brewers' Guild released a statement reiterating its opposition to Liston's bill.

"The large retailers focus time and attention on mass market beer brands that sell with a high volume," the Guild said on St. Patrick's day.

"While the largest craft brewers may well get some shelf space in grocery stores, there is no doubt that niche and specialty beers from medium and small brewers are unlikely to be offered placement in these large retailers."

HB 1284, which was co-sponsored by Democrat Crisanta Duran, was introduced in the House Economic and Business Development Committee. According to the Denver Business Journal, this will be the 4th straight year that a similar piece of legislation has been introduced in the Colorado Legislature.