State regulators say it’s time to discuss the popularity of high-proof alcohol on college campuses. Thursday’s meeting of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Commission followed an incident earlier this month involving a Drake University student who landed in the hospital after a heavy night of drinking Everclear.
Commission member Jim Clayton says he worries about the increasing number of products, like Everclear, that are high in alcohol content. “Young people are buying it…what for? Making punch…spiking a watermelon with grape juice and Everclear,” Clayton said. At 150 proof, Everclear has nearly twice the concentration of alcohol as most vodkas.
“Doing things with it that add alcohol to a situation where you’re really not knowing whether somebody put in two shots or took the bottle…and glug, glug, glug into a container,” Clayton said. “So, I’d like to talk about it.” Brian Duax owns Central City Liquor in Des Moines. He told the commission that it would be unfair to punish everyone for one kid’s mistake.
“In my philosophy, I was a Drake student, if he would have drank ten glasses of Everclear or he would have drank a bottle and half of Hawkeye (vodka), it would have done the same thing to him,” Duax said. “It’s more, parents educating their children that, ‘okay if you’re going to drink this, do it responsibly.’ You can’t drink ten shots of Everclear and expect to function as a human being.”
Another liquor retailer said, if banned, Iowans will just buy the strong stuff in neighboring states. Jim Swacker owns Last Stop Beverage in Des Moines. “So you haven’t solved the problem. You might as well (let) us sell it in the state at our liquor stores and have the revenue,” Swacker said. Substance abuse prevention advocates disagree.
Mike Wenger is with Employee and Family Resources. He says restricting the sale of high proof alcohol would help. “Most of these things are not pre-planned. It’s not a matter of I’m going to come back from another state with my bottle of Everclear and were going to have a party. It’s a matter of it’s Friday night, let’s go get some Everclear and make some jungle juice and drink,” Wenger said. The commission plans to hold a public forum on the issue in the next month or two on the Drake campus. Iowa is a so-called “control state” – which means alcohol can only be sold after it’s approved and stamped by state regulators.