Four things to know about Utah’s liquor laws

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Taylorsville state liquor and wine store – the first to offer cold beer in Utah (ABC4)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – It’s no secret Utah is one of the most restrictive states about alcohol in the country. Data released earlier this year emphasized that, with Utah largely sticking out as having the lowest percentage of excessive drinkers nationwide.

Don’t let this map alarm you – drinking alcohol in Utah isn’t illegal. The Beehive State is even home to some award-winning breweries. Instead, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control explains the state’s liquor laws “are based on the general philosophy of making alcoholic beverages available in a manner that reasonably satisfies the public demand.”

Just like other states nationwide, a person must be at least 21-years-old to purchase and drink alcohol in Utah. There are liquor stores and restrictions on drinking and driving. Here is a look at four aspects of Utah’s liquor laws you should know, if you don’t already.

Where you can purchase alcoholic beverages

You’ll be able to find full liquor service statewide at licensed restaurants, banquets facilities, airport lounges, hotels with hospitality amenities, taverns, bars, reception centers, and recreational amenities. At these locations, you can order liquor by the drink, wine by the glass or bottle, and beer in bottles, cans, or on draft.

The liquor license a business carries will impact what beverages can be served and when.

If you’re looking to bring alcohol – packaged liquor, flavored malt beverages, wine, and heavy beer – you’ll need to go to your nearest State Liquor Stories and Package Agencies. To find the one nearest you, visit the DABC’s website. Don’t be alarmed if you find beer not in a cooler – the state’s new liquor store in Taylorsville is the exception here.

Buying beer – and more

Ever heard the rumor that there is only lite beer available in Utah? That isn’t true. The Beehive State views the alcoholic content of drinks based on weight. As Gastronomic SLC explains, 3.2 by weight equals 4% by volume – so Guinness is usually 4.2%, for example. If you are at a grocery store in Utah, the maximum strength of beer you’ll be able to find is 5%.

The same can be said about bars and pubs – the maximum strength beer on tap will be 5% ABV. You may find a stronger beer in a bottle but don’t expect it from the tap.

Wine and cider are not affected by this rule. More on that later.

If you are out to eat, the soonest you can drink alcohol is 11:30 a.m. on weekdays and 10:30 a.m. on weekends and state/federal holidays.

Sundays and holidays

While state-run liquor stores close on Sundays and major holidays, you can still buy liquor on these days in Utah.

Restaurants and bars open on these days will likely be serving alcohol. Grocery and convenience stores are also often open and ready to sell to you. Just be aware of their hours (like we mentioned before).

Fruity and fine

While most beers in Utah are capped at a 5% ABV, an alcoholic beverage made from fruit is unrestricted on draft. So, for example, wine and hard cider served on draft in Utah can be stronger than the 5% you’ll see from a neighboring beer.

Only five ounces of wine can be served by the glass at restaurants, banquets, reception centers, bars, hospitality amenities, and airport lounges.

Note, though, that Utah law requires anyone serving liquor to use metered dispensing systems. This means no more than 1.5 ounces of primary liquor can be dispensed in a mixed drink. Secondary alcoholic flavorings can then be added but cannot exceed a total of 2.5 ounces of spirituous liquor.

For more on Utah’s liquor laws, click here.

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