Alcohol and the U: Rolling out the kegs

There was a time when U students of age could legally buy kegs of beer to-go from nearby bars.

To the chagrin of some, that all changed in 1990 when law enforcement officers complained that keg parties in the canyons near Salt Lake City were causing too many rowdy parties, said Neil Cohen, a licensing and complaint specialist with the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The logic, in part, was that kegs encouraged young people to drink more and thus led to unseemly behavior, Cohen said.

“I guess once you open a keg, the tendency is to drink it all,” he said.

Utah lawmakers headed those complaints and banned the public from purchasing kegs. The law states that citizens cannot possess containers of beer larger than 2 liters.

Now students who want to buy their own keg to serve beer on draft must drive across the state border to Wyoming and bring it back. While the practice is illegal, it is not uncommon.

Jaqulyn Cult, an employee at Lotty’s Liquor Store in Evanston, Wyo., said the majority of people who buy beer kegs from the store are Utah residents. She said the store sells to people regardless of where they live.

“Basically we sell it, (and) pretty much what they do with it is up to them,” Cult said. “You don’t know what they’re going to do with it.”

Illegally bringing a keg into Utah is punishable as a class A misdemeanor. Cohen said offenders can be punished with maximum jail sentence of six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Cohen said he is unsure why students go through the effort of driving out of state to buy kegs.

“Some people think that the beer is stronger,” he said.

Utah law allows registered beer retailers or temporary permit holders to serve beer out of kegs. State permits are issued for special events such as those where beer is sold on draft. Cities and counties must issue permits for these events.

While permits allow keg beer to be served at some events, Cohen said getting a permit for a party would be unlikely. He said counties and cities have their own permit requirements.

“I don’t think the county wants to allow keg parties where beer is given away,” Cohen said.

Lynn Rohland, sergeant at the U Police Department, said that the county is unlikely to issue permits for keg parties.

“I seriously doubt that you’ll be able to get a permit for a private party,” she said.

Rowland said U police occasionally find kegs on campus, but it is not a common occurrence.

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Tyler Cobb