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Seven surprising Utah liquor quirks you didn’t know

Generic beer photo

Ask any out of stater what they know about Utah and up there with snow capped mountains is more than likely our infamous liquor laws – some of the more conservative in the United States. For reference you can find the complete guide to Utahs liquor laws here. We update these every year with the latest changes to the state liquor law.

Aside from the obvious downers like no doubles, no happy hours, and no wine shipped to your door – there are some lesser known quirks on state books, some that actually call for cheers not tears. How many of these do you know…

You can buy beer 24/7 in Utah

Think you can only buy beer during certain hours of the day? Think again. Due to a quirk in the way off-premise beer retailers are licensed, retail hours are set by local municipalities. This is usually seen at convenience stores that will (legally) advertise 24/7 beer for purchase. Do note that the limit for this is 5% ABV. Side note: grocery stores aren’t licensed in this way, and retail until 11 p.m. only.

You can buy liquor on Sundays and holidays in Utah

Utah is a control state which means anything over 5% ABV can usually only be sold only via state liquor stores – these close on Sundays and major holidays – leading to the belief that it’s illegal to retail alcohol over 5% on Sundays. Guess what – it’s not.

Type 5 package agencies can sell their wares to the public seven days a week if they so choose – holidays included. The caveat is that the package agency facility needs to also operate a bar or restaurant on the same premises. Head up to High West in Park City for example and you can happily pick up a bottle of their fine whiskey or vodka on a Sunday afternoon, likewise Beehive Distillery down here in SLC. Check out our full guide to buying liquor and beer on Sundays on Utah.

You can bring alcohol into the state

While many fancy themselves as free wheeling bootleggers, the law changed on this one a while ago. It’s now perfectly legal to head across the border and bring back your favorite tipple with you. Currently, individuals are allowed to bring upto nine liters with them when passing back into Utah from out of state. Maybe time to check out Lee’s Liquor in Wendover after all huh?

Brew it with fruit, pour freely

If you find yourself in a bar or restaurant you’ve probably noted that the limit on draft is 5% ABV. Anything stronger needs to come out of a can or bottle. This curiously doesn’t apply if the alcoholic beverage is made from fruit. That means hard cider and wine are both a ok to serve on draft in Utah. White Horse on downtown’s Main Street is a great place to check out a number of fine craft ciders on tap.

Kegs a go go

Actually, the same applies to kegs too. While a traditionally kegger isn’t legal given the Utah ban on purchasing kegs of beer – that doesn’t apply to cider. I know of at least one local distributor that (legally) sells kegs of craft cider direct to the public.

Cheap boutique wine

While Utah’s 88% markup on liquor is often derided (come to the UK if you want to see REAL prices my friends) some leeway is given to smaller producers, specifically small boutique wineries. The exemption means that you can often snag a beautiful bottle more cheaply in Utah, than the winery back in California for example. Follow local wine experts like Libation for the low down on what to buy and when.

Bonus item – refrigerated beer

It might’ve took more than a century, but its finally here, cold beer. For any out of staters freaking out, don’t worry, just kidding. Bars, restaurants and retailers all refrigerate their brews, except of course the state stores.

One of the biggest face palming items for local craft brew lovers, was the Utah’s insistence on retailing strong beer in their stores without refrigeration. All that changes this month of course, the new Taylorsville store has opened up, and with it…

cold beer…

Disclaimer: please note that while I am an avid drinker, I am by no means a lawyer.  If you or your business needs qualified assistance in interpreting Utah liquor law, be sure to contact Tanner Lenart – the very best liquor lawyer Utah. 

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4 thoughts on “Seven surprising Utah liquor quirks you didn’t know”

  1. You forgot to mention what is the strangest liquor law to me (and I have lived in Utah for over 25 years): hard cider is considered wine, and even at 5% ABV, can only be sold in State Liquor Stores. Hard seltzer in grocery stores, yup! Cider, NO!

    1. Yup, part of the same law that classes it in the category as wine, e.g. brewed from fruit. It’s a double edged sword. I’d love to pick up a few cans of Magners from the refrigerated section of Harmons during a grocery shop; but the classification also allows cider to be poured on draft too. Another item I didn’t mention is that if out at a bar or restaurant there business can pour anything upto a full carafe of cider too. Many only offer 5oz or carafe size pours, but there’s actually no limit here, e.g. you should be able to get a 16oz pint pour or cider just like a beer.

    1. For beer, it varies by city Eric. There are definitely some in Utah that allow for 24 hour sales, but I’ve not been able to create a definitive list

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