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License lost because of mislabeled 3.2 beer.

License lost because of mislabeled 3.2 beer

The president of a large independent beer distributor in Denver has admitted disguising full-strength Pabst beer as 3.2 percent beer, and his company has lost its license to sell beer as a result, according to a copyright report.

The action on Friday affected Murray Distributing Co., after president Paul V. Murray Jr. admitted under oath he personally ordered 420 cases of full-strength beer to be stamped "3.2" and delivered to four Cub Foods stores Aug. 31. The situation was detailed in a copyright report in The Denver Post.

A newspaper investigation of the allegation triggered the state's probe of Murray and Friday's license revocation hearing. The newspaper purchased some of the beer, and when J.E. Siebel Sons' Co., a Chicago lab, tested a sample it showed an alcohol content at 3.63 percent by weight and 4.63 percent by volume.

Grocery stores in Colorado cannot sell any beverage with an alcohol content higher than 3.2 percent by weight. And state law requires that all 3.2 beverages be labeled as such.

The state's liquor enforcement division first learned of the allegations Nov. 20 after a former employee of the distributing company told liquor investigators of the switch.

The division, however, didn't officially start its investigation of the charges until Wednesday when The Denver Post showed liquor division chief Roger Morris a 12-pack of the strong beer purchased at one of Cub's stores.

Within an hour, an investigator confiscated 33 cases of the full-strength beer at a Cub store in southwest Denver, the newspaper said.

At a hearing under questioning from Assistant Attorney General Steve Bush, Murray admitted stamping the full-strength beer as "3.2."

At the hearing conducted by Amelie Buchanan, the deputy director of the state revenue department, Dave Burlage, one of Murray's lawyers, said a revocation of the license probably would cost employees is unclear. Although he can't distribute full-strength beer or 3.2, distribution of wine and nonalcoholic beverages is unaffected by the action.

Buchanan's ruling, however, said, "'It is my finding that these acts were deliberate and willful, that no attempt was made to rectify the situation until the investigation was under way, and finally that these violations are very serious."

Murray and his lawyers refused comment after the proceeding.

Lynn Olsen, director of operations for Cub in Denver, who allowed The Post to view Cub records regarding the shipment, said Friday that even before the ruling he had ordered all products supplied by Murray - including nonalcoholic beverages - pulled from Cub shelves.

"We just don't want to do business with Murray - period," he said.
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Title Annotation:Murray Distributing Co.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Dec 25, 1989
Words:441
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