Update: Beer travels: Why is Colorado so strict on carding?

Hey guys. I wrote a blog post (below; original link here) five years ago about excessive carding in Colorado. I’m pretty sure this post got more comments than any others, as it seemed to have ruffled some feathers of folks, especially in the service industry. Since this post, I have traveled much more extensively and have found this issue to be even more true: I almost never get carded in any other state besides Colorado (and considering I’m 43 why would I?)

Some have sited Colorado liquor laws as the cause, but in the research I’ve done they seem pretty similar to other states, with the main point being: servers/the establishment can certainly be punished for serving minors. Of course that is the driving force behind checking id’s. That’s just how it is here in the US. But why is Colorado the one state where middle-aged people such as myself get asked to pull out our license each and every time we drink? Other states seem to have gotten a handle on this without going to extremes.

As you can see from the comments, people in their 50’s and 60’s even experience this. I am now in my mid-forties and am wondering how old I’ll have to be before it ends? 70? Seriously.

I am asking for genuine input here. Is there something so different in Colorado liquor laws that I am missing? If you feel like commenting only to say “Shut up! We’re just doing our jobs!” okay, if you must…but that isn’t helpful information. If you’d like to specify what “doing my job” means (e.g.–the establishment I work for REQUIRES us to ask for ID EVERY time we serve ANYONE), that’s at least providing a bit more info.

I just went to Portland, OR for 3 days and drank at numerous places. Number of times I got carded? Zero. Number of times I was asked if I was at least 21? Two or three. I was told that, by their asking, the punishment would fall on me if I had lied about my age. Is this an acceptable way to “card” in Colorado?

Thanks in advance for your input and information as I continue to try to understand what’s happening in Colorado.

Original post:
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 (UPDATE: now 43) 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.

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 (UPDATE: Now mid-forties).

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!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tony Kiernan says:

    I am in the UK. I have visited Denver at least once a year since 2006.

    Back when I first visited, pretty much every bar would ask for ID. In more recent years, if I’m going to a rock show, it gets checked on the door and that’s about it. Of course, this is purely anecdotal and doesn’t mean anything

    We did one have a barman in the Falling Tap refuse to accept a European driving license as ID. He asked did we think the local police would accept it, we answered (from experience) yes indeed we did. Which prompted a very lengthy diatribe about how he’d done two tours of duty in Iraq for hi government and wouldn’t take any lessons from us on how it works.

    Needless to say, we’ve never darkened the doorstep of the place again. Most interestingly, have heard similar reports from a few people over here

  2. Melissa Southard says:

    My family just purchased beer at King Soopers and because I didn’t have my ID on me, they wouldn’t sell us the 6 pack. My husband had his but I didn’t. The store manager stated that per Colorado law ALL parties in a family must show proof of age, even my 14 year old if asked. I tried to find this law but couldn’t. What I did find was that Colorado doesn’t require anyone to carry proof of age nor is ID’ing people at purchase mandatory. I’m so frustrated but not sure who to call to verify this.

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