Monday, December 17, 2012

Buying Beer in good ol' Utah

I did the math today and I've been in Utah for over 15 years now. Ugh. And now that means I have to claim it at my home cause I've lived here longer than I've lived anywhere else. Utah is one of those states that people don't know much about. Sure, we have Mormons and mountains and snow. And we have some awesome liquor laws. Ok we probably don't have the worst liquor laws but we have some doozies. One of those laws says that any beer that is over 3.2% alcohol by weight must be sold at a state run liquor store. Another law says no free alcohol, so when I saw that BzzAgent was doing a campaign for Stella Artois and I was invited, I was shocked! I didn't get free beer (illegal in Utah, remember) but instead I got a nifty chalice to drink Stella in. I'm going to talk about that in another post.  I want to do a little background on Utah alcohol laws and "Utah Beer" before I get there.

People think our beer is really, really watered down. I just want to say, it's not. Practically everywhere else in the USA measures the amount of alcohol in their beer by volume. Utah decided to be different and measure our beer by weight. So let's go back to high school math so I can tell you have 3.2% abw (alcohol by weight) beer = 4% abv (alcohol by volume). Why we measure it this way, I don't know. But people come to Utah thinking that our beer is weak. If you take a Budweiser in Utah and compare it to a Budweiser from where else (like Idaho cause we're like 20 minutes away from there) it's a 1% difference. Bud up there is 5% abv. So 12 oz of Idaho beer = 14 oz of Utah beer. Not that big of a deal, right? Try explaining that to people, ha ha!

Anyway, there is a point to this rant. Because Stella Artois has an alcohol content of 5.2% abv you can't walk into your neighborhood grocery store or convenience store and pick one up. They can only be purchased at a state run liquor store. The downside to that is the Liquor Store, as we affectionately call it, is only open Monday thru Saturday from 11 am to 10 pm. Closed Sundays. Closed holidays. So you need to plan in advance for this! And their beer is never, ever on sale. Other beers that we can only get at the liquor store: Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Mickeys, Pacifico, New Castle and all "flavored malt beverages" like Mike's Hard Lemonade.

Ok, ok I'm a little obsessive with this, right? Well I do teach a class required by every server or bartender in Utah who serves alcohol. And one of the biggest things I talk about is abv vs. abw beer. I defend our beer a lot because it does have more alcohol in it than people think. And I love to argue with people about Bud Light because it's the same everywhere (4.2% abv).

So I have this post, mostly because in my review of Stella I'm going to link back to this post instead of including it in my review. There is an upside to our liquor laws. Call me crazy, I know. But our deaths related to alcohol motor vehicle incidents have gone down a lot. And really, isn't that the point of laws prohibiting or limiting the amount of alcohol people can consume? To keep them safe? No one is saying you can't get trashed at home, but if you go out and drink in a restaurant or a bar, you cannot get drunk. Sorry!

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