Utah Vies To Keep Title of “State With Crazies Alcohol Law”

Apparently fearful Utah might get bypassed by other states in the look-at-our-crazy-alcohol-laws sweepstakes, the state is considering a bill that would finally allow Utahans to buy beer, wine and spirits online. One caveat, the buyer can’t pay for the beer online and must go into the store to pick up and pay for the wine. 

Come on…That’s just humor. Straight-up humor, right. People often accuse Utahans and particularly their Morman majority of being humorless. But I think this attempt at “e-commerce” proves that stereotype worthless.

“If approved, online ordering of beer at grocery stores would be allowed as long as the retailer does not process payment before it verifies that the customer — who still must go into the store — “is the patron who placed the order” and that she or he is 21 or older….Along those same lines, the newly unveiled bill also would allow customers to place an online order at a licensed distillery, brewery or winery. The manufacturer would not be allowed to process the payment, the measure says, until the customer goes into the business and an employee determines that it is “the patron who placed the order” and that person is of legal age to buy alcohol.”

The Salt Lake City Tribune, reporting on the newly introduced bill (HB371), noted that the online ordering provision of the bill was part of “a catchall alcohol measure sponsored by Reps. Timothy Hawkes, R-Centerville, and Steve Waldrip, R-Eden, [that] addresses the 21st-century convenience that consumers have been clamoring, especially during the pandemic.”

Here’s the thing…I’ve been working in the alcohol world for thirty years. I’ve studied this issue of consumer convenience. I’ve talked to hundreds of consumers and retailers and wineries. Not once have I heard a single person describe convenience as having to first go on-line to order a beer or wine or spirit, then having to go to the store or producer to pay for and pick up the item.

As the Tribune notes, “The bill has not yet been assigned to a committee for debate.” I’ll be following how this bill advances in order to attend the hearing and the debate that ensues. I’ll be curious to know just how this bill is opposed, as well as supported. I just can’t fathom either.


Posted In: Wine Business


6 Responses

  1. Stephanie Cuadra - February 23, 2021

    When the architects of the system are not the end users of said system, this is the sort of solution you get. As a Utah-based fine wine importer, I have built my business model on several value propositions (e.g. transparency, quality, authenticity, immediacy…) but convenience clearly isn’t one of them. Fortunately, Utah has some of the most passionate, engaged and educated food and wine enthusiasts I have encountered anywhere in the world. I find that Utahns by and large—regardless of religious affiliation—make choices about what they eat and drink based on their value systems rather than on the mainstream understanding of convenience.

  2. VVP - February 23, 2021

    22.3% adults in Utah are living with a disability. How about others who also can’t come?

  3. Bob B - February 24, 2021

    Actually Utah does not hold a candle to a couple of southern states who have county by county laws about alcohol. I’ve been to restaurants where I was told i needed to walk across the street to a 7 11 in another county to buy a beer because the restaurant was in a dry county and the 7 11 was in a county where any alcohol you might want was for sale at grocery stores, but some counties only beer and wine was for sale at the grocer. So dry counties, wet counties and semi wet counties.

  4. Bill St. Croix - February 24, 2021

    Having lived in Utah for about 9 years, and having witnessed the archaic liquor laws first hand, I don’t think they have to worry about maintaining the stranglehold they have on the aggressively idiotic laws. And they continue to corner the market on ‘new and improved’ idiotic laws.

    Clearly, they are out of touch with what customers are looking for because they only look at 70% of the population which doesn’t have any interest in moving the needle precipitously around alcohol laws.

  5. Bill St. Croix - February 24, 2021

    @Bob B – I’m in Kentucky now where wet, dry and my favorite ‘moist’ counties exist. This is nothing like Utah. Utah, hands down, is the wackiest.

    Utah ‘highlights’ (to be honest, some of this may have changed since I lived there (2002-2008):

    1) No beer over 3.2% sold in stores…had to go to the state run stores for that
    2) Limitations on how much alcohol total can be in a single drink. Can’t get a margarita with an extra shot of tequila but you CAN order a side car of tequila and pour it in yourself when no one is looking
    3) Same margarita…order a ‘Grande’ size and get more mixer, no more alcohol, due to #2 above
    4) If the meter on the bottle is not working, they cannot sell any drink that needs that alcohol. No free pouring allowed.
    5) Private clubs
    6) Restaurants with bar areas can’t serve ‘over the bar’ but have to bring the drink around to you and server you like they do a meal
    7) One drink in front of you at a time, unless you order a side car.

    #7 was learned on a first trip there. The waitress stood behind us after coming around the bar we were sitting. I moved away so she could set the beer bottle down and she said I have to finish the other first. She explained the law and then ‘bottoms up’ to finish the one in hand quickly so the next one she had didn’t get warm! She said, ‘that’s what everyone does.’

    LOL Their laws don’t accomplish what they strive for and they are too ignorant to see that.

    I’m hopeful some of that has changed. I know they increased the amount of of ‘primary’ alcohol allowed in a drink several years ago from 1 oz to 1.5 oz, but then they reduced the total amount of alcohol allowed in the drink. So think long island iced tea.

    The improving the Utah liquor laws is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on Titanic, hopelessly futile.

  6. Jim Santangelo - March 5, 2021

    Stephanie Cuadra has it right…

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