Local Utah Breweries Face Price Hike, Consumers to Feel Their Pain Come July

Specialty beers, wines and other alcoholic beverages could soon cost you more money. Next month, the state’s alcoholic beverage handling fee is more than doubling.

In 2008, Dave Cole and his business partner, Peter Erickson, began pursuing their dream of opening their own brewery.

“It was either an epic failure or a success and fortunately Salt Lake was ready for it.”

So ready, that Epic brewery is now brewing and bottling 34 different beers at their location on State Street in salt Lake city. Cole says Epic has been able to maintain its pricing in the state since opening. However beginning July 1, that will change. 

Earlier this year the Department of Beverage Control Commission voted to approve a measure that more than more than doubles the handling fee charged by the state for every case delivered by its warehouses, upping it from 42 cents to 90 cents a case. Cole explains, “This fee is already a component of their pricing strategy. They are going to increase that cost portion allocated to the cost of goods and pass that on to consumers.”

That means Epic beer drinkers will see an increase of 6 cents a bottle, and Cole says he believes that will be standard for many products in Utah liquor stores come July. Now he is calling on Utah lawmakers to look at what price increases mean for the state:

“Think about tourism and how that is going to continue to impact tourism negatively in our state. They need to make it easier for adults to do things that adults enjoy and passing along fees to the consumer -- there is very little room to do that if we want to continue to see tourism thrive in this state.”

The DABC declined to go on-air for this story, but in a statement, noted the state’s handling markup had previously remained the same since 1999, and was only about half of the next lowest state’s fee. It says the new fee of 90 cents matches the next lowest liquor-control state, Alabama, adding that the increase was required to be in compliance with Utah’s budgeting law.