Gluten Free Beer Utah

Utah State Seal

If you are gluten free and live in Utah or know someone who does, then you’ll want to know what’s in this report about gluten free beer in Utah. Utah is one of 18 states that is a control state. The term “control state” means the state takes physical responsibility for the control of the sale of alcohol within their state. In Utah, that means that all alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of over 4% by volume is sold by the state of Utah through state owned and operated stores. So, if you want to purchase an alcoholic beverage with the alcohol content above 4%, there are only 2 options: buy from the Utah state store or through special order. The special order is the part that I want to address in this post.

Utah has a board that approves new liquor offerings with a rather involved process. This board uses the following criteria, in no particular order:

• Quality vs. Price
• Need for the product (substantially different from what is already available)
• Performance in surrounding states of the product
• Awards
• Planned advertising expenditure by the brewer in the state
• Requests by purchasers through special order

Once a product passes these criteria, the next step is to prove that the product will be a profitable seller. This issue is the same issue any brewer, distiller or wine maker faces with any distributor, in any state. Distributors, state run or not, want to put product on their shelves that will sell quickly and in great quantity. This part of the process may upset some people, but it is a natural course of business. The way I see it, distributors, state owned or not, want product that sells well and does not require marketing or advertising on their part. The only way that Utah will recognize demand is through special order sales, period. Constituent contact or other types of communication will not insure sales and that folks, is the bottom line.

As of this writing, there are only two gluten free beers available in Utah, Redbridge and Bard’s. Redbridge is under 4% alcohol, so it is not subject to the above requirements. Bard’s, having an alcohol content above 4%, is the only gluten free beer that has been approved by the state at this time.

So, where does that leave those of you who live in Utah and want to choose from a variety of gluten free beers? This is where the special order process becomes vital to your access to gluten free beer. You can special order any alcoholic beverage through the state and it will be delivered to the closest state store to you. However, be prepared to sock over the cash for at least a case of your gluten free beer, as that is the minimum order. (Since I’m only reporting on gluten free beer, I am not sure of the process for other forms of alcoholic beverages).

As I understand it, there are quite a number of you gluten free beer drinkers in Utah. If you want access to more gluten free beer, it will take a coordinated effort by you and your fellow Utahns. Some ideas include:

Share a case with a friend if you don’t want to foot the bill for a whole case
• Get the word out & tell your gluten free friends about the special order option
• Organize your local gluten free group for a gluten free beer tasting & order a few different cases to try
Contact us here at the Gluten Free Beer Association & we’ll work with you to develop a local group to coordinate purchases.

These special orders are the best way to show the state you’re serious about having access to gluten free beer. The state will monitor these special order sales and these numbers will give them a reasonable expectation of future sales, which in turn is vital to the approval process.

For the gluten free brewers, I recommend advertising your product in Utah and include how Utahns can special order your beer.. We have to work collectively, as a group & as individuals, to bring more gluten free beer options to the shelves. We must be willing to give special attention to and navigate the system that the state has established.

Here is a list of the 18 states that are control states (as I understand it, only 9 operate like Utah):

New Hampshire
North Carolina
West Virginia

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jamie neerings October 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm

I would welcome the opportunity to sample and purchase other brands of GF beer, other than the 2 I’ve been able to try by living in utah. I’m open to sharing cases with others. Let me know what the best next steps are.

Joey October 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Hey Jamie,

If you are willing to buy a case then you have no problems. To share cases, you can contact a store there in Utah that is trying to coordinate case purchases:

Gluten Free Foods
1596 N Hill Field Rd #B
Layton UT 84041

If anyone in Utah would like to share cases, either leave a comment here or get in contact with me and I will compile a list to help y’all get together.

Suzanne October 13, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Enjoying a Green’s Amber Ale as we speak. While traveling, I’m able to purchase at Whole Foods. Red Bridge, Bard’s, New Planet… eh. Whatever needs to happen to make Green’s easy to purchase, I am there.

Katie August 16, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Hi! Definitely open to gluten free beers being more accessible to Utahans. There’s a great beer spot in Salt Lake and they refuse to offer Red Bridge because they won’t sell beers that you can buy at the liquor store. Since they’re a specialty beer place, maybe we can encourage them to sell gluten free beers that you can’t get in Utah!

Joey August 16, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Great Idea though the beer has to be approved in Utah to be sold in the store or beer joint. Keep doing your research, you are on the right path! 🙂

Leave a Comment