What's next for getting beer into Colorado grocery stores and gas stations
By Adrian D. Garcia
Key players behind supermarkets, liquor stores and other alcohol purveyors gathered Friday in downtown Denver to discuss the future of beer sales in Colorado.

But the group had little to say to each other during its first gathering since the 2017 legislative session. So little, in fact, that what was scheduled to be a three-and-a-half hour meeting on the 30th floor of the Tabor Center ended more than an hour early.

A “consensus bill” that aimed to bring easy fixes to the legislation passed in 2016 — allowing grocery stores to eventually transition from selling 3.2 to full-strength beer — ended up falling apart during the session, leaving each player to work in its own best interest. Now it’s unclear if the group can come back together this summer and agree on recommendations for how to phase out 3.2 beer.

If the working group can’t make recommendations for new rules, some like the Colorado Municipal League, believe any 7-Eleven, Loaf ‘N Jug or other store currently selling 3.2 beer could automatically switch to full strength in 2019.

How we got here:

“The session really got messy,” said Jeanne McEvoy, CEO of the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association. “It got less than positive and legislators got confused and were unsure of what was right.”

State legislators dodged a ballot fight in 2016 over where beer could be sold in Colorado by passing SB 197 late in the session. The bill, signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper, allows grocery stores to phase in the sale of full-strength beer starting in 2019. The bill also allows some stores, like King Soopers and Safeway, to increase the number of locations already selling full-strength beer, wine and liquor.