The infamously nicknamed “3.2 Beer,” that low alcohol relic of a post-prohibition mentality and state laws that prohibited anything but beers with drastically reduced alcohol levels to be sold in grocery and convenience stores, is finally going the way of the Triceratops. And frankly we’re amazed that it’s taken this long.
In today’s craft beer lexicon the 3.2 beer itself is a slight misnomer, referring to alcohol by weight rather than the more commonly used ABV (alcohol by volume) designation. A 3.2% beer is actually a 4% ABV brew when referenced by volume and in today’s world it’s becoming an increasingly rare commodity.
These are the beers of our youth, bought by older brothers with dubious fake IDs, most of them produced by big beer companies with the specific intention of meeting the state’s requirements so they could make their way onto convenience and grocery store shelves and into our under-age hands.
But those days are long gone and so are the number of people specifically craving beers with such low alcohol content.
Most Session IPA’s have a much higher buzz-potential and in today’s craft savvy world, if you’re celebrating with a 3.2% beer, hopefully it’s a sour.
As of 2016 only five states including Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, Kansas and Minnesota are still mandating these low alcohol variants and a dwindling amount of attention was being paid to them by the majors. Think about it… Budweiser’s a 5% ABV beer and Bud Light still comes in at 4.2% ABV!
In this week’s election, Oklahoma residents overwhelmingly approved a measure that will allow grocery and convenience stores to sell what they deem full strength beer (4% or higher).
Colorado has already changed their liquor laws and will permit stronger beer to be sold in grocery stores beginning in 2019, leaving only three states (Utah, Kansas and Minnesota) with laws mandating these low alcohol “baby beers” that even the majors have less interest in brewing for them.
Kansas and Minnesota are both established craft beer markets, so we’ve got think that they’re pissed and their legislators are feeling considerable heat on this.
And even Utah has to realize that “3.2 beer” is beyond over… and that it’s time to catch up with the future.
But whatever these states end up doing, the classic “3.2 Beer” is pretty much “dead man walking.” And you can say goodbye now, assuming you care…