Many years ago I walked into a bar to buy beer for a gathering; I needed four six-packs and it was the best place to go. Well I asked the bartender for my beers she said she could only sell me two six-packs, but that if I took those two to my car, I could come back and buy another two. That is the silliness of liquor laws here in Pennsylvania. You buy your six-packs in bars, your cases at beer distributors (that until a couple of years ago were closed on Sundays), and your wine and spirits at state owned wine and spirit stores (also until recently closed on Sundays). So it was great pleasure to read that Pennsylvania is considering making those beer laws a little more consumer friendly by allowing distributors to sell smaller than a case of beer. For some reason this is controversial.
Small beer brewers are saying that they can’t afford to retool to sell smaller than a case of beer. (Really?) They think this change only benefits the big brewers. Bullshit. Do you know how many times I’ve refrained from buying a beer because I hadn’t tasted it, and didn’t want to get stuck with beers I didn’t like (that Blue Moon Honey Moon Summer Ale sounded like a good idea at the time). I would love to walk into a distributor and buy 3 or 4 six-packs of different beers (actually I’d prefer to walk in to the supermarket for this, but that’s a fight for another day). This is a change that will benefit the consumer immediately and beer distributors in the long run. And honestly – I’m not about to give up my Paulaner Hefeweizen for a six of Bud.
Just like the bar owners who were small-minded and short-sighted about banning cigarette smoking in Philadelphia, these brewers can only see the risk of losing sales as opposed to the potential of finding new customers.
I also take issue with the belief that the state is there to help these smaller businesses at the expense of consumers and common sense. The state does bear some responsibility in fostering an atmosphere that supports small business, but it should be through laws that are fair.
So with all this I’ll be calling my congressman to express my support for this change (I’ve called him for other reasons – so I won’t feel guilty about calling him about a beer law). Hopefully in a few months Pennsylvania will join bastions of liberality such as North Carolina and Tennessee in allowing their citizens a more liberal beer law.