Beer travels: Why is Colorado so strict on carding?

It’s not often I am able to travel outside of Colorado. It seems that vacation time and money are always in short supply. But I definitely enjoy it when I get the chance to visit another city and fully immerse myself in their craft beer scene.

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I recently returned from a short (2.5 day) trip to Austin. I love Texas beer, so when I travel to Austin (one of my favorite cities!) I make a point to get to as many craft beer establishments as possible. While I was there, I drank at several different types of places: restaurants, breweries, beer bars, a dive bar, as well as purchasing beer from a bottle shop. I count 14 businesses in all, and out of these 14, how many carded me? One. And it was the dive bar with a doorman out front, carding everyone.

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This got me thinking about a couple of other cities I’ve visited in the last year: San Francisco and Boston, where I had the same experience as I did in Austin. It was fantastic! I didn’t have to dig into my purse, get out my wallet and pull out my id. It was noticeably different than here in Colorado, where I get carded every single time I order a drink , unless the bartender recognizes me. Now, I’d like to add that I am 39 years old and, while I’m often told I don’t look my age, it’s extremely obvious I am not under 21. So why is Colorado so strict on carding? I wish I knew.

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I understand that folks in the service industry have to make sure they are not breaking any laws when serving alcohol. And I know there are plenty of times when it’s hard to tell a person’s approximate age. But is it really that difficult to tell the difference between someone in their mid-late 30’s and a 20 year old? Shouldn’t these folks simply use their best judgement when serving? Why is it that 99% of servers in other states/cities have no problem handing me a beer without checking my id? For all the archaic beer laws in Texas, they still win over Colorado when it comes to convenience of ordering a beer without any hassle.

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What’s my point in writing this? I guess it’s mainly to vent, as it gets annoying having to show id approximately 5-10 times a week, or more. But I’d also like to get some feedback if anyone has any inside knowledge on why this is. Or even just your opinions. I know I’m not the only one this happens to; it happens to all my friends, every time, and we’re all well into our 30’s.

A couple of true, prime examples of just how irritating getting carded at my age is:

  • I’m in a bar and have already ordered and drank a beer (after being carded) as well as started a tab. I go up to the bar to get another, and this time it’s a different bartender. I am asked yet again for my id!
  • I sit down in a restaurant and am not waited on right away. I get up to use the restroom and have my friend order my beer, and I leave my id at the table for the server to see. The server tells my friend she won’t pour/bring the beer until she sees me to compare my face with my id! As if she couldn’t do that when delivering my beverage.

Readers: please share your thoughts. Do you live in Colorado and get carded every time you drink? Have you visited Colorado and experienced this? I would love to hear from you. Thanks!

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15 Comments Add yours

  1. Lilly Sue says:

    I completely hear you! I am in Europe and guess what? I have not been asked for my id once in three months- it is so nice 🙂 Lol, not trying to rub it in but I think it is so ridiculous. Your first point about ordering a second drink with a tab that is even already open- is so annoying! It is like- are you serious? Also, the whole 4 drinks, 4 ids…I had not thought of it as being a Colorado thing but now that you mention it, I do not think I was id so much in Austin either. On a side note, what I loved about Austin was how you can BYOB to some restaurants that do not offer their own. So cool! And that law I know differs by state and for some stupid reason is illegal in CO…

    1. I was fine with being carded even into my early 30’s. But now, with lines in my face and such, I just think, “I’m almost 40! Though I might not look quite as old as I am,can you NOT see that I’m clearly over 21?!”

      I too ordered beers for our table and wasn’t asked to provide id’s for every drink I ordered. I sometimes find it insulting how ridiculous certain places/people are about carding me at this age.

  2. Annoyed says:

    First world problems. You are whining about a first world problem where you are inconvenienced by pulling your ID out of your wallet before you can spend money on a beer. Your issue and entire blog are focused on a non-issue. Get over it and worry about something that really matters.

    1. Considering my blog is about beer in Colorado, I think it’s clear this is anything but a blog devoted to 3rd world problems. To say my “entire blog focused on a non-issue” is laughable. My blog is focused on Colorado craft beer which, as most people are well aware, is anything but a non-issue here in Colorado. One post (out of 150) addresses excessive carding, especially based on experiences in other cities. (which is still a ‘beer issue,’ “Annoyed” as you may be).

  3. Daryl says:

    Hello there coloradobeergirl,
    First, let me say what a lovely name you have: coloradobeergirl, it just sounds nice.
    I’m 53 & can tell you it wasn’t always as strict. I’m also old enough to have lots of opinons….so. I think it’s because the asshats at the liquor board like to run stings. In turn, the liquor license holder doesn’t want to take ANY chances with their livelihood. Consequently, don’t want their bartender to have to make a judgment / common sense call. They want to manage the risk ( as much as I hate the term).
    My second case guess is that there was a DUI where somebody got hurt & the serving establishment was also liable.

  4. Aria says:

    I’m one of those annoying carding bartenders at one of those breweries ,you’ve been to in Colorado; there are several reasons for your inconvenience
    1) in Colorado servers and bartenders face hefty fines and jail time for serving minors. 2) Most companies have polices that require carding people who look under a certain age, usually 40, and employees will be terminated if the policy is not followed. 3) Bussiness owners are protecting their businesses and their employees. 4) Colorado has a very high percentage of population that is under 25. When I card someone I’m protecting where I work, myself, and my means of supporting my family because if I loose my job because of this I could never be able to work in the service industry in Colorado again.

  5. toast2042 says:

    I agree that the carding in Colorado is out of hand. I do not go out to drink looking to be hassled. Maybe we could get one of the tourist organizations to fight the liquor board over the idiotic rules that cause this behavior.

    1. Lindsay says:

      How is that a Hassel? First off in colorado you are required to have an id if your drinking. Just doing our jobs. We have to deal with police stings all the time. And we are the ones that get screwed if we don’t do our job. It shouldn’t be insulting or rude. That’s just you perception of it all. You have no idea the liability every server and bartender has over every single person we serve a drink to. So what if we are looking out for our own good.

  6. Jason Whitesell says:

    It’s gotten totally out of hand. I’m 44 they card me. Fine. But when my 70 year old mother bellies up to the bar and they card her, I have to ask are you really carding a 70 year old woman?! You’re not being cautious. You’re being stupid.

  7. Update: I visited Portland, OR last week for about 4 days. I drank at several bars and breweries, and I bought beer at Whole Foods and Target. I got carded ONCE, at Target. It was such a nice change! I got back here and went for a margarita first thing…and the carding began again.

  8. Gary says:

    I’m 54. Today I’m wearing three days of grey stubble in my beard and my hair is halfway grey. I just went into Tucker’s Pizza ACROSS THE STREET FROM MY OFFICE in Hotchkiss, Colorado, a town of 1,000 people, and the waitress absolutely refused to serve me a drink without ID. She knows me. The bartender goes to my church. There were four young men having pizza–all young 20’s, who went to school with my sons. Several patrons at the bar knew me. I was unyielding. She said that she couldn’t serve anyone under 50 without an ID. “I’m 54,” I said. Didn’t matter. They had their policies. “I want to talk to the manager,” I said. “I’m the manager,” she said. “Then I want to talk to the owner,” I said. “But they’re in Grand Junction!” she said. “I don’t care,” I said. “Call them.” She refused. So they missed out on a few bucks on the pizza tab and most definitely any of my future business. She knew damned good and well that I’m over 50 years old and there was absolutely no way that any employee of that establishment could ever get in trouble for serving alcohol to an underaged person by serving me. Personally, I’m sick of this “rules are rules!” attitude and I’ll take my business elsewhere.

  9. Nancy Hensley says:

    I was just told after getting carded I’m 53, that the new law is they have to card anyone who is under 50!! I was also told that with this new law if they don’t card in a sting even with someone who is old enough, they could get fired & fined 500. Trying to find that law cause THAT’S BS!!

  10. M Ward says:

    I live in Colorado and my husband and I (both in our 30s) just went to a liquor store to buy beer. I didn’t have my purse, so knowing how people are in Colorado I decided to go out to the car when my husband went to pay. Well apparently the checkout girl saw me leave because 30 seconds later he came out and said she wouldn’t sell to us until I bring my ID in to show her. Colorado is rediculous when it comes to alcohol laws, but this is a new level. We simply drove down the street to get beer and I waited in the car. Glad the laws are making such a difference in keeping two 30 year old people from enjoying a beer on a Friday night.

  11. Karen Winbourn says:

    I was recently carded and I am 67 years old!!! Luckily I had my ID. When I questioned why they had to card someone obviously over 21 I was told “it’s Comorado law”. Since when? Is this true? Or just some result of lawyers? (And yes I am a retired PI defense attorney who would ask indeositions “ do you ask every patron for their ID?”)

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