Ask any other state what it knows about Utah and up there, with its snow-capped mountains, more than likely lies our infamous liquor laws – some of the most conservative in the United States. For reference, you can find the complete guide to Utah’s alcoholic beverage laws here. We update them annually with the latest changes to the state liquor law.
Aside from the obvious drawbacks like no doubles, no happy hours, and no wine shipped to your door – there are some lesser-known quirks in the crown books, some that actually call for cheers and not tears. How many do you know …
You can buy beer 24/7 in Utah
Think you can only buy beer at certain times of the day? Think again. Due to a quirk in the way off-establishment beer retailers are licensed, retail hours are set by local municipalities. This is usually seen in convenience stores that (legally) advertise beer for purchase 24/7. Note that the limit for this is 5% ABV. Note: Grocery stores are not permitted in this manner and retail until 11pm only.
You can buy alcohol on Sundays and holidays in Utah
Utah is a controlling state, which means anything over 5% ABV can typically only be sold through state liquor stores – these close on Sundays and holidays – which suggests that it is illegal to retail alcohol over 5% on Sundays. Guess what – it isn’t.
Type 5 package agencies can sell their goods to the public seven days a week if they wish – including public holidays. The caveat is that the packaging agency facility must make food available to customers, as well as produce the alcohol product in the same location. Head to High West in Park City for example and you can pick up a bottle of their fine whiskey or vodka on a Sunday afternoon.
You can bring alcohol into the state
While many consider themselves freewheeling bootleggers, the law changed on this some time ago. It is now perfectly legal to cross the border and bring your favorite drink with you. Currently, individuals are permitted to bring up to nine liters with them when returning to Utah from out of state. Maybe it’s time to take a look at Lee’s Liquor in Wendover after all, eh?
Infuse it with fruit, pour freely
If you happen to be in a bar or restaurant, you’ve probably noticed that the draw limit is 5% ABV. Anything stronger must come out of a can or a bottle. Oddly, this does not apply if the alcoholic drink is fruit-based. This means that both cider and wine can be served on draft in Utah. White Horse on downtown Main Street is a great place to sample a number of handcrafted ciders on tap.
Kegs a go go
In fact, the same goes for the drums too. While a traditional keg is not legal given Utah’s ban on purchasing barrels of beer, this does not apply to cider. I know of at least one local distributor who (legally) sells craft cider casks directly to the public.
Cheap boutique wine
While Utah’s 88% liquor markup is often derided (come to the UK if you want to see the real prices my friends), there is some leeway given to small producers, especially small establishments. wineries. The exemption means that you can often buy a nice bottle more cheaply in Utah than in the California wine estate, for example. Follow local wine experts like Libation for what to buy and when.
Bonus item – chilled beer
It may have taken over a century, but it’s finally here, cold beer. For anyone panicking, don’t worry, just kidding. Bars, restaurants and retailers all refrigerate their beers, with the exception of course of government stores.
Utah’s insistence on retailing strong beer in their stores without refrigeration has been one of the biggest items for local craft beer enthusiasts. That all changes this month of course, the new Taylorsville store has opened, and with it …
cold beer …
Disclaimer: Please note that although I am a heavy drinker, I am by no means a lawyer. If you or your business needs qualified assistance interpreting Utah Liquor Law, be sure to contact Tanner Lenart – Utah’s best alcohol lawyer.
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Hello, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I am the founder, writer and wrestler of Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I am also a former food critic for over five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I have worked extensively with other local publications, from Utah Stories to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake. I am a multi-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah food scene for over a decade. I’m largely fueled by a critical obsession with rice, alliteration, and using too many swear words that I don’t understand. What they say about me: “Not inaccurate”, “I thought he was older”, “I don’t share his feelings”.
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