Jun 7, 2022 - Politics

Utah stores saying goodbye to some hard seltzers

Illustration of a beer can with a declining alcohol by volume.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Many popular hard seltzer flavors are now being phased out of Utah grocery stores under revised liquor laws that took effect in June.

What's happening: About half of the hard seltzers sold in Utah will no longer be allowed at grocery and convenience stores because their flavoring contains trace amounts of alcohol.

  • The newly restricted drinks include all four available flavors of the popular Truly seltzers, all 13 Vizzy flavors and several flavors of Bon & Viv, Coors, Bud Light and Leinenkugel's seltzers.
  • Grocers will have until the fall to sell their existing inventories, state alcohol regulators said in May.

Details: Hard seltzers were filling up — and flying off — grocers' shelves before regulators noted last year that state law had not yet been updated to address them.

  • Alcohol drinks that are allowed in grocery stores are classified as "beer" under state law.
  • When legislators rewrote the definition of "beer" to include hard seltzers, they used federal wording that excludes drinks with alcohol in the flavoring; ethyl alcohol is a common flavoring additive used in the popular drinks and other foods.

The restricted seltzers won't automatically be moved to Utah's 41 state-run stores, Michelle Schmitt, spokesperson for the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services, told Axios.

  • Suppliers must apply separately to the DABS to be selected for the state-run stores' inventory — a constantly shifting list that is occasionally purged by regulators.

What's next: State regulators are still conferring with manufacturers to learn for certain which seltzers use ethyl alcohol. Many use glycol-based flavoring, which is not subject to new restrictions.

  • An updated list of restricted drinks is expected in the coming weeks, Schmitt said.
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