Minnesota Will Soon Be The Only State Where You Can Buy This Beer
Forty-eight other states already don't, and soon Minnesota will be the only state left where you can buy this beer. But the bigger question might be, why?
I'm talking about selling 3.2 beer-- beer that has an alcohol-by-volume percentage of only 3.2-- well below the alcohol content contained in most beers have these days. "3/2 Beer" or "Near Beer," as it's jokingly been referred to over the years, is the only beer that's still legal for grocery stores to sell here in Minnesota.
And soon, we'll be the only state that still sells the lower-alcohol beer. Colorado used sell it, too, as I found out when my wife spent some time in Colorado Springs last summer. Other states like Kansas, Oklahoma, and Utah used to sell it, as well, but Kansas and Oklahoma changed their laws last year to allow stores to sell 'regular' beer.
Even Utah, with its usually more-restrictive alcohol laws, later this year will also allow grocery stores there to sell beer with a higher alcohol content and 3.2 percent, as this City Pages story notes. So that leaves only us here in the Land of 10,000 Really Light Beers left selling the stuff.
By contrast, most beers today have alcohol percentages waaaay higher than 3.2 percent. Heck, even a regular light beer, like Coors Light or Miller Lite, comes in at around 4.2 percent, and for some craft beers (especially some IPA's), it's nearly twice that amount or higher.
According to this TwinCities.com story, the reason for 3.2 beer dates back to Prohibition-- when selling and possessing any alcohol was illegal in the U.S. Minnesota's legislature back then tried to get around the law by passing its own state law that said any beverage with an alcohol percentage 3.2 or lower wasn't really an alcoholic beverage-- and could still be legally sold.
Which is why you can still see 3.2 beer for sale in grocery stores in Minnesota. And, when buying 'high octane' beer was illegal on Sundays here, I can see why 3.2 beer continued to occupy shelf space at stores across the state-- it was the only beer you could buy, even if it was weaker than your usual brew.
But since Sunday alcohol sales were legalized here in 2017, sales are flatter than a day-old can of Schiltz. And now that Minnesota will soon be the only state to sell 3.2 beer today, will the big breweries like Budweiser, Coors, and Miller even still bother to make the stuff?
Only time will tell, I guess, but for right now, if you want a cold 3.2 beer-- Minnesota's your place!