Each state in the U.S. has its own set of unique beer laws. Some have extremely limited hours of operation and others don’t sell beer in grocery stores. What are Colorado’s beer laws, and what should we know about them?
In Colorado, you can buy beer from bars, restaurants, and breweries any day from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. in cans or bottles, or on draft. Liquor and package locations, grocery stores, and gas stations sell beer in cans and bottles every day from 8 a.m. to midnight. Other alcohol is available at these locations. Alcohol delivery is available in Colorado.
Continue reading for an in-depth analysis of Colorado’s beer laws, as well as where you can buy beer and at what times.
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Is Colorado a dry state?
A dry state or area restricts or limits the sale or consumption of alcohol within that area. There are no dry states in the United States.
Colorado is not a dry state and it does not have any dry counties. You can buy beer in Colorado at most retail locations any day of the week.
There are also no completely dry areas in the state of Colorado.
Does Colorado have any dry counties?
Colorado is not a dry state, but are any of its counties dry?
Colorado does not have any dry counties. There are currently no counties that have beer laws that are more strict than those enforced statewide, but these localities are legally allowed to hold referendums to vote on such restrictions.
Colorado introduced a new law in 2019 allowing grocery stores across the state to sell full-strength beer. In regards to this law, “full-strength beer” is defined as beer with an ABV higher than 3.2%.
When can you buy beer in Colorado?
Under normal circumstances, what are the sales periods for both on-premise and off-premise sales?
In Colorado, you can buy beer at restaurants every day of the week, including Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Retail liquor stores, gas stations, and grocery stores are allowed to sell beer in Colorado and are open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to midnight.
These times are the standard, but businesses can choose to set their hours of operation within these time frames.
General alcohol laws in Colorado
Colorado’s liquor and wine laws mostly follow suit with its beer laws, but you need to visit a package or liquor store if you’re buying wine or liquor for off-premise drinking.
In Colorado, liquor and wine must be purchased at package liquor stores, which are open daily from 8 a.m. to midnight. Liquor and wine are not available for off-premise sale outside of these locations. Bars and restaurants can sell liquor and wine every day from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Beer is the only alcohol available in grocery stores and gas stations.
There are no limitations on liquor sales that are different from beer or wine sales in Colorado.
Can you buy beer on Sunday in Colorado?
Colorado does not have any restrictions in place for buying beer on Sundays.
You can buy beer on Sunday in Colorado at bars and restaurants between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Retailers sell beer on Sundays between 8 a.m. and midnight.
Beer and other alcohol can be purchased at these same times any other day of the week.
When do bars close in Colorado?
What time should you expect bars to close in Colorado?
Bars in Colorado are legally required to close by 2 a.m. every day. Bars and restaurants must provide the food option of at least snacks or sandwiches after 8 p.m. if they wish to serve alcohol.
There has been recent back and forth on the option to extend bar operation hours, but the idea has been tabled and the bill was withdrawn.
Where can you buy beer in Colorado?
There are a handful of places where you can buy beer in Colorado, including
- Bars and restaurants
- Gas stations
- Grocery stores
- Package and liquor stores
- Breweries and taprooms
Bars and restaurants
As with most areas, patrons can buy beer with their meals at bars and restaurants.
Bars and restaurants in Colorado can sell beer and other alcohol every day between the hours of 7 a.m. and midnight. These locations must have food available starting at 8 a.m. and must serve at least snacks and sandwiches after 8 p.m. if they wish to serve alcohol.
Bars and restaurants can sell beer on draft and in cans or bottles. Purchased beer cannot exceed 144 oz, or the equivalent of two six packs.
Gas stations in Colorado can sell beer every day of the week from 8 a.m. to midnight. They can sell beer of any alcohol volume (ABV) percentage.
Colorado gas stations sell beer in singles or small cases. They sell either cans or bottles.
Grocery stores in Colorado sell beer between 8 a.m. and midnight each day of the week. They are allowed to sell any type of beer, regardless of the alcohol content.
Colorado grocery stores can sell beer in 6 packs and 12 packs in cans or bottles.
Package and liquor stores
Package and liquor stores in Colorado can operate from 8 a.m. to midnight every day of the week. These stores sell beer, wine, and liquor.
In Colorado, these locations sell beer buy the case in bottles or cans, and they can also offer single cans or 6 or 12 packs.
Breweries and taprooms
Colorado breweries and taprooms are open every day of the week from 8 a.m. to midnight, although some close at least one day of the week for manufacturing, distribution, or canning purposes.
These locations can sell packaged beer for off-premise consumption. They serve beer on-premise on draft or in cans or bottles. Like restaurants and bars, they must offer food after 8 p.m.
Can you get beer delivered in Colorado?
Beer delivery in Colorado is allowed.
You can get beer delivered in Colorado. Package stores with the proper license are allowed to deliver beer or alcohol themselves or they can partner with third-party service providers.
Minibar and Drizly are two third-party delivery services with a presence in Colorado.
What is the minimum drinking age in Colorado?
The legal drinking age in the United States is 21. Some states allow minors to consume alcohol in certain environments like at home under parent supervision or during religious practices, including Colorado.
The minimum drinking age in Colorado is 21.
Minors in Colorado can drink beer with their parents. You must be at least 18 years or older to serve or sell alcohol in Colorado. Giving alcohol to anyone under 21 at an on-premise drinking location is illegal.
Can minors drink beer in Colorado with parents?
Minors are allowed to drink beer with their parents under specific circumstances.
Minors can drink beer with their parents or a legal guardian in Colorado if:
- it’s in a private residence,
- they’re with an of-age parent or legal guardian, and
- the parent or guardian is aware of the minor’s consumption of alcohol.
Supplying minors with alcohol is otherwise illegal.
Drinking laws in Colorado
Colorado’s drinking laws are relatively loose – hours of operation are reasonable and you can buy beer just about anywhere.
Colorado offers multiple types of locations to buy beer from and there are no designated dry areas.
Up until recently, grocery stores and gas stations weren’t allowed to sell beer greater than 3.2% ABV. This meant that most mass-market beers were available, but many craft brews were only available at specialty stores. Now, these locations can stock beer of any ABV percentage.
Can you buy growlers and other unsealed beer containers in Colorado?
Growlers have limited availability in Colorado.
Bars, restaurants, and breweries are not allowed to fill growlers unless they have an on-site wholesale sales room. Off-premise locations are not allowed to fill growlers. Pre-filled growlers are available at breweries as long as they are sealed and properly labeled.
Open containers are not allowed in Colorado.
Open containers are illegal in Colorado. You are not permitted to have alcohol while outside of a licensed business or private residence. Drivers and passengers in motor vehicles are not allowed to have open containers unless they’re stored in the trunk of the vehicle.
Consumption of alcohol, while the vehicle is moving, is illegal. Violation can result in a Class A traffic infraction.
Driving while under the influence is illegal in Colorado.
A driver’s blood-alcohol content may not surpass 0.08% without penalty.
In Colorado, if you’re stopped for drinking and driving with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08%, it can be inferred that your ability to operate a vehicle was impaired. If your BAC showed 0.08% or above, it can be inferred that you were under the influence of alcohol.
Under 21 years old
It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with alcohol in their system.
Colorado has a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving under the age of 21. The maximum BAC for underage drivers is 0.02%.
21 years and older
The legal BAC limit for drivers of legal drinking age is 0.08%.
If you’re convicted of DUI in Colorado, first-time offense punishments include:
- 5 days to 1 year of jail time
- Up to 2 years of probation
- $600-1,000 in fines
- 48-96 hours of public service.