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5/25/2016 8:56 am  #1

How to get beer in Pennsylvania

Just in case you don't know. It gets a little complicated!

How to get beer in Pennsylvania

From state-run liquor stores to beer cafes, Pennsylvania's unique alcohol laws have created some unusual scenarios.

From teetotaling Puritans to Prohibition-era bootleggers, the United States has had a storied history with alcoholic beverages.Pennsylvania is far from being the only state with peculiar liquor laws. However, its state-run wine and liquor stores and regulated beer sales have caused some odd circumstances for retailers and and customers alike.

Whether you like to sip on beer, wine or spirits, here are some things you'll probably only do when drinking in Pennsylvania.

1. Walk into a grocery store through a separate entrance for beer sales

In many states, you can enter a grocery store and find beer in an aisle just like any other product. In Pennsylvania, however, supermarkets are prohibited from selling beer, wine and spirits.Some grocery stores have found a clever way to sell beer anyway.  By putting restaurants within the supermarkets, grocers were able to acquire beer sale licenses and sell beer the same way any bar or restaurant would."Technically when you buy beer in a grocery store, you're really buying it in a restaurant," said Jason High, chief of staff for state Senator Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, who is leading a push to revamp the state's liquor code.

Giant Food Stores has opened 18 "Beer Garden and Eatery" locations within its Pennsylvania grocery stores, including one in York County, and Weis Markets has opened 41 beer cafe sites, including six in York County.The stores, which sell beer by the six-pack or individually, are required to have separate cash registers and entrances, said Dennis Curtain, Weis Markets spokesman.

2. Plan ahead to buy liquor and wine

Wine and liquor laws vary from state to state. In many states, it's common to see wine or hard liquor for sale in supermarkets or convenience stores.In Pennsylvania, however, shoppers had better plan ahead if they want to break out the bubbly for New Year's Eve — or any other holiday. Their main option for liquor and wine is "the state store," a colloquial term for one of Pennsylvania's 603 Fine Wine & Good Spirits retailers.

The state-run wine and liquor stores are closed on many major holidays, including Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Presidents' Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day, said Elizabeth Brassell, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board spokeswoman. In addition, the stores often set limited hours around other holidays, she said.The board has been pushing to increase the appeal of the stores, Brassell said."Instead of the stark white linoleum and harsh fluorescent lighting, we’re moving toward a more comfortable, inviting environment, where customers want to spend more time," she said.

Still, the state liquor stores remain a divisive topic among legislators. Some see the business, which did $1.86 billion in after-tax sales during fiscal year 2014 to 2015, as a reliable source of revenue for the state. Others, such as Wagner, want to dismantle the state system and privatize sales.

3. Make several trips from the bar to your vehicle

It doesn't matter how buff you are. You aren't allowed to walk out of a bar carrying more than two six-packs of beer.
In Pennsylvania, establishments with beer licenses may sell carry-out beer, but those purchases are limited to 192 fluid ounces, Brassell said. That's as much as two six-packs of 16-ounce beer cans.That limit has been set since 1987, and is actually an increase from a previous law from 1949 that allowed only 144 ounces of beer, or two six-packs of 12-ounce beers bottles or cans, she said.Fortunately for those who want to chalk up more miles on their Fitbits, there's an easy way around this regulation.

Walk outside, put the beer in your car, come back inside and buy two more six packs."It is a per-transaction limitation," Brassell said. "There are no restrictions to making multiple trips or transactions to purchase carry-out beer."

3. Go to a 'beer distributor' 

Beer sales aren't only separated from wine and liquor sales. In Pennsylvania, beer sales are also regulated by quantity. To purchase a case of beer, your only option is to go to the "beer distributor."Unlike liquor and wine stores, beer distributors are privately owned. Distributors have a different license, which allows them to sell kegs and cases, Brassell said. 

 A case of beer usually contains 24 cans or bottles, though some may have more or less.Distributors are not allowed to sell six-packs, so anyone who shops there had better be sure they like whatever brand they buy.However, distributor regulations changed a bit last year.

 A legal advisement determined that distributors were permitted to sell 12-packs of beer as long as they were in their original packaging, Brassell said.And now, Gov. Tom Wolf wants gas stations to be able to sell beer.

5. 'Bootleg' alcohol into Pennsylvania from Maryland

With York County so close to the Maryland line, it may be tempting to cross the Mason-Dixon to purchase your hard drinks.That, however, would make you a criminal."State laws (liquor and tax laws) have prohibited the possession of wine, liquor and beer purchased out of state since Prohibition," Brassell said by email.

A bottle of wine, though, is unlikely to result in any criminal proceedings. State police don't "actively enforce" the law, said James Lynam, Harrisburg district office commander of Harrisburg State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement.However, if the illegal transport of alcohol was brought to police attention, they would investigate it, he said.“You put a little common sense into it," Lynam said.

"If we discover that  a licensee in the commonwealth is saving money by getting liquor outside of the commonwealth, that’s a whole different story than if someone was vacationing, bought a case of beer, and brought some of that back.”

 “We hold these truths to be self-evident,”  former vice president Biden said during a campaign event in Texas on Monday. "All men and women created by — you know, you know, the thing.”


5/25/2016 10:46 am  #2

Re: How to get beer in Pennsylvania

Look what Governor Wolf did!!!!!!


Let the booze wars recommence.

In a Tuesday letter to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, Gov. Tom Wolf called on state regulators to "favorably consider applications from businesses with appropriate protections to sell up to 192 ounces of malt or brewed beverages."

The text of the letter follows below:

Dear Board Members:

I am requesting that the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) favorably consider license applications from businesses with appropriate protections to sell up to 192 ounces of malt or brewed beverages. Doing so will make purchasing beer more convenient for Pennsylvanians and is consistent with recent precedent in the Commonwealth Court. I understand that there are twelve such applications up for approval at the May 25 board meeting, and I respectfully ask that PLCB approve all of those applications that otherwise meet PLCB standards.

Currently, the Pennsylvania Liquor Code requires that the PLCB "shall refuse any application for a new license [or] the transfer of any license to a location where the sale of liquid fuels or oil is conducted." As you know, however, a recent Commonwealth Court ruling affirmed PLCB's interpretation of this provision to permit the sale of malt and brewed beverages on the same property as liquid fuels, as long as points of sale are appropriately separated. The Court's ruling in Water Street Beverage, Ltd. v. PLCB affirmed PLCB's decision to approve a license for Weis Café, when Weis had gas pumps on the same property as the proposed Café. The Court's decision sets important precedent that both clarifies this provision of the Liquor Code and allows for the sale of malt or brewed beverages at gas stations and other businesses under appropriate circumstances.

I respectfully ask the PLCB to approve the license applications pending before the Board, as well as all subsequent similar applications, that involve the same factual circumstances approved by the Board and the Court with respect to Weis Café. Allowing malt or brewed beverages to be sold at gas stations under appropriate circumstances is an important step toward our shared goal of "freeing the six-pack" and increasing convenience and improving customer satisfaction for all Pennsylvanians.



Governor </quote>

Now while not as important as you know, getting a budget in place and on time, I admire that he's trying to move forward on this.

I think you're going to see a lot of different United States of America over the next three, four, or eight years. - President Donald J. Trump

5/25/2016 11:52 am  #3

Re: How to get beer in Pennsylvania">Wow! Who says government can't move fast......

Governor Tom Wolf Applauds PLCB For “Freeing the Six-Pack” in Gas Stations

May 25, 2016

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf applauded the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for “freeing the six-pack” in gas stations by approving nine applications permitting businesses with appropriate protections to sell up to 192 ounces of malt or brewed beverages.

“’Freeing the six-pack’ will make the commonwealth more inviting for customers and businesses,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “I applaud the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for approving these applications and respectfully ask that they approve similar subsequent applications that otherwise meet PLCB standards in order to improve customer service and convenience for Pennsylvania.”

Last edited by TheLagerLad (5/25/2016 11:53 am)

I think you're going to see a lot of different United States of America over the next three, four, or eight years. - President Donald J. Trump

5/25/2016 12:17 pm  #4

Re: How to get beer in Pennsylvania

Free the six-pack! 


5/25/2016 12:33 pm  #5

Re: How to get beer in Pennsylvania

Just Fred wrote:

Free the six-pack! 

As a Democrat, you would have thought he'd say "Free Six-Packs"


I think you're going to see a lot of different United States of America over the next three, four, or eight years. - President Donald J. Trump

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