Green light given for stronger beer on Kansas convenience and grocery store shelves

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Grocery and convenience stores have now been given the green light to sell hard beer. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed the so called “Uncork Bill” into law Tuesday.

It will take a couple more years to go into effect, and it will mean some Kansas shoppers will have to make fewer trips. Sure, there are different brands, but Kansas beer drinkers truly have just one option for grocery store beer: the lighter stuff.

With the stroke of a pen, it`s about to change.

“There`s finally additional choice and convenience for them in the marketplace, and that was really Uncork Kansas` goal all along was to bring choice and convenience to consumers, and we`re pleased there was an opportunity to do that with the passage of this legislation," said Jessica Lucas, a lobbyist for the group Uncork Kansas, a network of Kansas retailers and grocers.

She spoke on behalf of a Dillons grocery store in Lawrence, about the benefit of Gov. Brownback signing the bill into law.

"What it means for grocery, convenience stores is a chance to better meet the needs of their customers,” said Lucas.

Starting in April of 2019, grocers and convenience store in Kansas will be able to sell beer with up to six-percent alcohol content. It will also allow liquor stores to sell some non-alcoholic items like tonic water, potentially keeping shoppers from making multiple trips. The signing of the bill wasn`t without it`s challenges, in fact, it`s been part of a decades-old battle.

“When we elevated the drinking age to 21 we did not discontinue 3.2 beer. Most states at that point classified beer as just beer. Kansas kept 3.2 beer of the shelf in the 80`s,” said Lucas.

FOX 4 reached out to several local liquor stores that were not ready to comment, however, an assistant liquor store manager from Wichita was previously featured on FOX 4 saying she feared the bill would make her lose business with domestic beer being her top seller.

Kansas Senate minority leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka has been quoted in several newspapers as having the same concerns for small liquor stores. Uncork Kansas believes the recent signing of similar bill in neighboring states was a factor in this bill becoming law in Kansas. The law will go into effect two years from now, in part to give alcoholic beverage control time to be in compliance.