With Minnesota being the last state to restrict sales of full strength beer in neighborhood supermarkets and convenience stores, two major suppliers have now stopped the production of beer with 3.2% alcohol by weight. Heineken USA and Constellation Brands decided that it’s not profitable any longer for them to sell a weaker brew, which is being sold only in one state.Constellation Brands includes Corona, Modelo Especial, Victoria and Pacifico beers, while Heineken USA has its namesake brand and other brands like Dos Equis, Tecate and Newcastle Brown Ale.
In November, Utah was the last in a row of several U.S. states to scrap its 86-year-old “3.2” beer law by lifting the limit from 3.2% alcohol by weight (=4.0% alcohol by volume) to 4.0 alcohol by weight (=5.0% alcohol by volume) (inside.beer, 16.4.2019). In the last 14 months next to Utah, also Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas changed their legislation, leaving Minnesota as the last state with such a requirement.
In Minnesota, a six-pack of full strength beer can only be bought at a liquor store. Until 2017, the state’s liquor stores were closed on Sundays which left consumers the only choice to buy a 3.2 beer at their local supermarkets and neighborhood stores. However, since last year, Minnesota’s liquor stores are also open on Sundays which reduced the sales of 3.3 beers even more.
“I think it’s time for government to get out of the way and let grocery stores and convenience stores have an opportunity like everyone else,” said Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Mary’s Point, in an interview on Tuesday.
After the withdrawal of Heineken and Constellation Brands, there are only a few brewers left to serve the 3.2 beer market. Anheuser-Busch has confirmed that it will continue for the time being the production of a “limited quantity” of 3.2 beer. In December, the U.S. arm of the world’s largest brewing group AB InBev already announced to cut down on its range of 3.2 beer (inside.beer, 25.12.2017). The same seems to be true for the other major U.S. brewer MillerCoors. Only August Schell Brewing Co, Minnesota’s largest brewery, remains explicitly committed to the 3.2 market.