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Did You Hear? Full-Strength Beer Is About to Change Everything in Colorado

It’s the end of 3.2 beer, and the Internet has a lot to say about it

Here’s how life in Colorado after January 1 looks from above

On January 1, for the first time since Prohibition, Colorado shoppers will be allowed to buy full-strength beer at grocery stores, rather than just the watery stuff. For the past 83 years, only low-alcohol “3.2 beer” has been sold in most of the state’s grocers.

This all changes in 2019 with a new liquor law that will affect everyone who likes to buy their beer and groceries together. It’s a concern for liquor stores, which are projecting some significant business losses. And it’s a question mark for craft brewers; depending on their size and distribution, they could either ride the grocery chain wave or, in a worst case scenario, go out of business.

To find out more, here’s what Denver beer writers and their dads this week have to say about it:

Over at the Denver Post, Andrew Kenney gives a good, digestible primer of the new law and its potential consequences, plus a guide for where to buy full-strength beer (at 1,600 Colorado stores!) and where to drink it (in Denver parks!) starting in January. Yes, the city is going to allow people 21 and over to drink full-strength beer, wine, and bubbly in parks for the entirety of 2019 before re-evaluating.

From 5280’s Jay Bouchard — who came to Colorado via New Hampshire, Montana, and New Mexico — a personal history with the low-ABV stuff. Spoiler: There is a very heartwarming part in the story pulled directly from an email by Bouchard’s father, who grew up in Denver buying 3.2 beer as a teenager.

And on Westword’s site, veteran beer writer Jonathan Shikes eulogizes 3.2 percent alcohol-by-weight malt beverages in a sweeping tale that spans the last century. Learn about “Drown Night” at Thirsty’s, FDR’s “wet” platform, and the day in 1933 when drinkers lined up for their first legal sips in more than a decade. If the buildup is true, that day might look a lot like January 1, 2019 at grocers around Colorado.