John Hickenlooper

Governor signs bill allowing full-strength beer phase-in

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill Friday to gradually allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer, liquor and wine, making the biggest change to state liquor laws since the end of Prohibition.

The law sets up a 20-year period for grocers to slowly acquire liquor licenses, sometimes by paying for those held by neighboring liquor stores.

By 2037, Colorado would repeal its unusual limits on how many licenses a company or chain may hold to sell alcohol. It also would end a requirement that most grocers sell only "near-beer," watered-down versions of common brews.

Colorado's largest grocers say the change will take too long and vow to ask voters...