The infamous ‘3.2 Beer,’ that low alcohol relic of a post-prohibition mentality and state laws that prohibit anything but beer with drastically reduced alcohol level to be sold in grocery and convenience stores – is finally going away.
And frankly we’re amazed that it’s taken this long.
The roots of this low-alcohol brews can be traced back to the “small beers’ of the medieval ages, less risky unfiltered alternatives to the tainted water at that time. They were less expensive alternative to the full strength brews used at festivities back then and something that was commonly served to children and servants.
In the US, these barely-alcoholic brews came into their own during Prohibition.
In 1917, President Wilson proposed limiting the alcohol content of malt beverages to 2.75% to try to appease avid prohibitionists (that didn’t work). And in 1919, Congress approved the Volstead Act, which limited the alcohol content of all beverages to 0.5% (and conveniently laid the groundwork for organized crime).
The 3.2 beer itself is a slight misnomer.
The term 3.2 is a reference to alcohol by weight rather than the more commonly used ABV (alcohol by volume) designation. In actuality 3.2% beer is a 4% ABV brew when referenced by volume but still, it’s an increasingly rare commodity.
State liquor laws are the primary reasons that the 3.2 beer is still around at all and those laws are fast disappearing.
As of 2016 only five states including Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, Kansas and Minnesota were still mandating these low alcohol remnants.
But Oklahoma, who amazingly drink 56% of this brew, passed a measure last year that will allow full-strength beer into their grocery stores in 2018 – and Colorado will allow it in 2019.
That leaves Utah, Kansas and Minnesota as the last bastions of the ‘3.2 Beer’ and less brewers than ever even offering it.
Any way that you look at it, it appears that it’s ‘last call’ for classic 3.2 Beer.
Those states will eventually fall to the future, and brewers will simply stop producing it.
And like the typewriter and fax machine, the 3.2 Beer will be consigned to the dustbin of history, so it’s best you say goodbye now…assuming you care.