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Taps for the taps: 3.2 beer gets its final sendoff in Utah

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control recycled all remaining 3.2 beer products Friday. (PHOTO: Garna Mejia, KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — All the remaining 3.2 beer in Utah disappeared today.

The end of 3.2 beer in Utah

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control recycled the leftover lower alcohol content product at Wasatch Resource Recovery in North Salt Lake.

The containers will be broken down and shipped to another location, while the DABC says the liquid is being disposed of in an environmentally-conscious way.

The reason behind the purge was a new state law that went into effect on November 1 that raised the alcohol limit on beer sold in convenience stores from 3.2% alcohol-by-weight to 5% alcohol-by-volume.

Prior to that date both liquor stores and private shops were selling their “weak beer” at discounts to hopefully clear the shelves in anticipation of the new law.

Also busy during that period were Utah breweries as they tinkered with products and raised the alcohol content on some of their craft brews.

Officials with the DABC say there were about 275 cases of discontinued beer that remained on their shelves in November, which they could no longer sell since it would put them in competition with private industry.

Beer inventory has since been replaced with a new 5% alcohol content product.

A brief history of brewing

3.2 beer is a unique product leftover from the days of Prohibition.

For about nine months in 1933, 3.2 beer was the strongest legally allowed to be sold under federal law. Then, after the 21st Amendment was ratified, moving the power to regulate alcohol sales from federal to state governments. A number of states continued to prohibit all alcohol sales at that point.

Later, some, including Utah, allowed alcohol sales, but limited the strength to no more than 3.2% alcohol-by-weight. As of 2019, only Minnesota and Utah still limited grocery and convenience stores to selling only “low-point” beer.