SALT LAKE CITY — Stronger beer could be on its way to Utah grocery and convenience stores later this year.
The Senate passed a bill 27-1 on Thursday that raises the allowable alcohol content for beer on store shelves from 3.2 percent by weight to 4 percent. The House overwhelmingly approved SB132 on Wednesday. It now goes to governor.
Only Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, voted against the measure, saying he's "concerned about kids who get alcohol either from their parents or either steal it."
Hillyard also noted that state-run liquor stores would lose revenue that funds Utah's school lunch program because some beers will now be sold in grocery stores instead. He suggested a "minimal" tax increase on beer to offset the loss.
Sen. Don Ipson, R-St. George, said beer drinkers will continue to buy beer at the same places they do now.
"I don’t think we're going to change habits one bit by doing this," he said.
The bill came about as a compromise between legislators and proponents of raising the alcohol content allowed in stores to 4.8 percent. It includes creation of a working group to study whether Utah should go to 4.8.
The law would take effect Nov. 1.