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Colorado Craft Brewers Benefit from Colorado Liquor Laws

Boulder Food and Beverage LawyerTwo recent articles by Eric Wallace of the Vail Daily and Dan Frosch of the New York Times tout the benefits of Colorado’s liquor laws to craft brewers.

After reading the above articles, as a Boulder Food and Beverage Lawyer, I thought I would take a moment to expand on the key Colorado liquor laws that make Colorado so attractive for the craft brew industry.

Colorado brewers are permitted to operate as “Alternating Proprietors” or “tenant manufacturers” who, by way of written agreement, take possession of a host manufacturer’s licensed premises for use as an alternating proprietor licensed premises to brew their own beer.  This provides start-up craft brewers the ability to save capital and rent production space.

Further, Colorado law permits Colorado licensed manufacturers of malt liquors (beer) to share brewing space and to sell beer of their own manufacture directly to retail.

C.R.S. § 12-47-402(1) (b) permits brewers

To sell malt or vinous liquors of their own manufacture within this state. Brewers or winers licensed under this section may solicit business directly from licensed retail persons or consumers by procuring a wholesaler’s license as provided in this article; except that any malt liquor sold at wholesale by a brewer that has procured a wholesaler’s license shall be unloaded and placed in the physical possession of a licensed wholesaler at the wholesaler’s licensed premises in this state and inventoried for purposes of tax collection prior to delivery to a retailer or consumer. …

Finally, Colorado liquor law prohibits two critical things:

1) Grocery and convenience stores from selling wine spirits and “full strength” beer (as opposed to 3.2% beer);


2) Retail liquor stores from holding more than one liquor license – thus eliminating chain retail liquor outlets.

These Colorado liquor laws work to prevent national stores such as Trader Joes, Safeway, Wholefoods and Target, for instance, to sell wine, spirits and beer at all Colorado locations.  By law, they are permitted to obtain a retail liquor license for a single Colorado location.  This, craft beer advocates say, provides small brewers (and vintners and distillers) with the opportunity and shelf space to market their products – shelf space that would be otherwise unavailable when competing with national “big” brands.  Despite numerous attempts to change the above Colorado liquor laws, they remain the same with no change in sight.

Boulder Food and Beverage Lawyer

The Boulder Food and Beverage Lawyers at LaszloLaw provide legal counsel to brewers, distillers, and wine makers on a variety of business needs including corporate formation, liquor licensing, employment law, risk management, corporate protection, and legal compliance. Contact LaszloLaw today so we can provide assistance for your legal needs.

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