AB InBev has informed Utah beer wholesalers in a letter it evaluates to cut down on its portfolio of beers with 3.2 percent alcohol by weight (4 percent by volume). As a consequence of new legislations allowing stronger brews in Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas in 2018 and 2019 many 3.2 beer consumers are expected to switch to other beer types, which makes it less economical to produce a vast portfolio of 3.2 brews and packages. Currently 60% of the total 3.2 beer drinkers in America can be found in these three states.
"Once the changes take effect, Utah will be the largest consumer of 3.2% ABW beer, and 3.2% ABW beer will make up only 0.5% of the entire beer sales in the United States," states AB InBev in its letter. "Given this reality, we are beginning a process to evaluate our 3.2% ABW beer portfolio, including considering package reductions up to 40% of those currently offered to Utah consumers. This would mean a decline from 113 packages to less than 70, and going from a range of 20 brands to 12."
Miller-Coors, the nation’s second largest brewer is considering a similar move, said Jim Olsen, the president of the Utah Beer Wholesalers Association. He warns that the choice of beers for consumers in Utah might be limited if the Mormon state does not follow the example of the other states.
However, others believe that craft brewers might easily fill this gap. "I think it's a boon to the craft beer industry in Utah to fill that void, and they can do it very well," said John Nielsen, commission chairman of Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC).
Utah and Minnesota are the last US states with the light beer requirements, one of the last remains of prohibition, which made the manufacturing, storage, transportation, sale, possession, and consumption of alcohol including alcoholic beverages illegal in the United States from 1920 to 1933. In spring 2017 Utah state law was already changed to remove Zion curtains, which were partitions that separate restaurant bartenders preparing alcoholic drinks from the customers who order them. (inside.beer, 28.10.2017)