Secrets of the Job Hunt


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Retail Grocery Jobs at Center of Colorado Beer Battles

The ongoing battle of alcohol sales in Colorado could ultimately end up hurting retail grocery jobs and Denver restaurant jobs, among others.

A recently-passed law aimed at keeping low-strength beer out of restaurants and bars has already been overturned. The reversal comes after state officials were notified that the new measures were placing too many restrictions on local businesses, costing the local economy tons of jobs and revenue.

About two months ago, the Colorado Department of Revenue instituted a rule enforcing the state's existing alcohol laws. Those laws allow grocery stores to only sell low-strength beer, while liquor stores, bars, restaurants, and breweries are able to sell full-strength beer.

The law further prevents establishments that are allowed to sell high-strength beer from selling any beer below 4 percent ABV. The recent enforcement of the law required that brewers test, confirm, and report the alcohol content of all their products.

However, the new focus on this existing law quickly caused problems, as local brewers began complaining it was harder for them to do business in the state. The Colorado Brewers Guild claimed the testing aspect of the law could cost small breweries hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Those complaints led DOR Executive Director Roxy Huber to issue an emergency ruling voiding the new enforcement of the law. That ruling drops the testing requirement for brewers and allows the DOR to test beers made by certain companies.

"My intent, as I've been instructed in this administration, is to think about business when you make decisions,"  Huber told the House Committee on Economic and Business Development. "Even though I try to always think about business, I try to listen when they say I've gotten it wrong."

According to the Denver Business Journal, some critics think Huber overturned the law on the direction of Gov. John Hickenlooper, who founded and owned Wynkoop Brewing Company. Opponents argue that while the reversal may help the brewing industry, it will end up hurting smaller convenience stores, and could end up costing jobs.

Some officials are pushing for the introduction of a bill that would allow convenience and grocery stores to sell full-strength beer in order to better compete. The United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 7 have already come out in support of such a bill.

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