Liquor Changes Mean Opportunity for PA Wine, Spirit and Beer Producers

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New law allows brewpubs to sell PA wine and spirits.

Yesterday, Monday, August 8th was the day Pennsylvania received its runner-up prize to actual liquor privatization with Act 39 passing into law. The main point that has been covered so far is that supermarkets can now sell wine. But that’s only a kind of can, as the separate entrance, separate cafe area requirements that were required to sell beer are in place for wine as well.

Another touted win for consumers is the ability to have wine shipped directly to your home from out of state producers. That brings Pennsylvania into compliance with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from a decade ago.

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You May Soon Be Able to Buy Wine in Pa. Grocery Stores

Wine for sale in grocery store

This may soon be a reality in Pennsylvania. (Photo by Dannielle Blumenthal, used under a Creative Commons license)

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow some grocery stores, restaurants and hotels to sell take-out wine.

House Bill 1690 passed in a 157-31 vote. It permits restaurants, hotels and grocery stores with existing licenses to also sell wine for consumption off the premises. Up to four bottles will be able to be purchased at a time.

“This is a very significant step for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in terms of privatization,” House Speaker Rep. Mike Turzai, a Republican, told reporters after the vote. “I’m very excited, I have to tell you. This is outstanding. It’s a historic opportunity today, and I think the governor’s going to sign it.” Read more »

Pennsylvania Restaurateurs Want Cheaper Booze

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Following what seemed to be a successful hearing before the House Liquor Control Board in Harrisburg regarding wholesale pricing (and a wholesale relationship in general) between Pennsylvania restaurant and bar owners and the distributors who supply the booze, the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association (PRLA) has been encouraging members of the hospitality industry to reach out to Pennsylvania senators and representatives.

The near-term hope is that changes to the PLCB system can be made part of the budget negotiations. The bigger wish? That PA restaurant folk can get something more like a fair shake when it comes to buying the hooch and Jesus juice that we all love so much. And you know what? We’re with them on this one.

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Former PLCB Official Charged in Kickback Scheme


A former official with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has been charged in federal court with accepting gifts to decide which products appeared on state store shelves for a decade. James H. Short Jr, former director of marketing and merchandising for the PLCB, received “all-expense paid golf trips, cash, gift cards, meals, and other benefits” from companies, federal officials say. Read more »

LCB Launching “PA Spirits Program”


Manatawny, The Pottstown distillery is likely to benefit from the new program.

Good news for Pennsylvania distilleries, several of whom recently saw their products removed from Pennsylvania Fine Wine & Good Spirits shops. In an effort to support Pennsylvania distilleries, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is launching the PA Spirits Program, which grants Limited Distillery license holders in the state the opportunity to place up to 10 products in up to 10 liquor stores of their choosing.

The program will allow local distilleries to target their products at the stores of their choosing. To be eligible to participate, all products must be distilled in Pennsylvania must submit their products no later than May 19th. Once selected, distilleries must sell a minimum of one case per month per store to remain in the program.

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No One Outside Of Pennsylvania Understands The PLCB

plcb_champagneAs a matter of fact, issues surrounding the PLCB (and efforts to curtail, privatize or simply abolish it) can get so weird and so confusing that the folks over at Lucky Peach recently brought in local food writer and man-about-town Drew Lazor to explain some things–including why Pennsylvanians were so excited when we were told that we could finally buy beer in 12-packs, which is something that most other Americans can do whenever and wherever they damn well please.

The Philadelphia Daily News described it as “stunning.” An attorney specializing in liquor law lauded it as “revolutionary.” “This is the biggest thing to happen to beer since 1933,” a Pittsburgh beer distributor told the Associated Press.

What are these Pennsylvanians describing with such exultant glee?

In March 2015, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), the omnipotent governing body for booze in the Keystone State, decreed that beer distributors, for the first time since the repeal of the 18th Amendment, were allowed to sell twelve-packs.

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9 Reasons Not to Observe April Fools’ Day in Philly

Clothespin photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia | Broad-Ridge Spur map via SEPTA | Milton Street photo by Jeff Fusco | Lenfest Plaza photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Clothespin photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia | Broad-Ridge Spur map via SEPTA | Milton Street photo by Jeff Fusco | Lenfest Plaza photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

In some parts of the country, I can see how April Fool’s Day has the potential to be fun. Everyone likes a good prank, and even a lame one deserves some credit on a sleepy Wednesday afternoon.

But in Philly? This city messes with our heads year-round.

I’m not talking about the cute, folksy, “how-weird-is-Philly?!” stuff that populates Buzzfeed lists. If you’ve spent 15 minutes here, the Mummers make perfect sense: glitter, feathers, booze. So does Wing Bowl: meat, boobs, booze. (Was that really so hard? Act like you know and let’s never speak of this again.)

No, I’m talking about the arbitrary, home-grown psychological warfare that Philadelphia wages on a daily basis, seemingly for sport.

Every day is April Fool’s Day around these parts, and after enduring the below petty mind games, we owe it to each other to abstain from the holiday. Or, at the very least, direct all of our efforts toward the PPA. Read more »

State Senator: Ban Powdered Alcohol in Pennsylvania

palcohol copyLast month, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board decided it would not sell powdered alcohol products in its Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores. “While we have not been approached to sell any powdered alcohol products, we wanted to clearly state our position proactively on this particular form of alcohol,” PLCB Chairman Skip Brion said in a release.

Now a state senator wants to ban powdered alcohol in the state entirely. Earlier this week, State Sen. Shirley Kitchen introduced legislation that would do such a thing.

“‘Palcohol’ is marketed as a lighter and easier-to-transport alternative than liquid alcohol. However, that also makes it much easier to conceal, consume, and be acquired by minors,” Kitchen said in a release. “This is a tasteless, odorless product and it is virtually unrecognizable from liquid alcohol. That it can be sprinkled over food or hidden in just about any container makes it too easy for our children to abuse.” Read more »

Beer Distributors Can Now Sell 12-PackS

SummerSelections_FeaturedImageThe PLCB’s Office of Chief Counsel has issued a legal advisory allowing Pennsylvania’s beer distributors to sell 12-packs of beer. Previously beer distributors were only allow to sell 24-packs or more of beer while bars and bottle shops could sell smaller quantities.

Below is the important part of the ruling:

Practically, this advisory opinion clarifies existing law by informing brewers that they may sell “original containers” as long as the container contains at least 128 fluid ounces, for example a 12-pack, to distributors that may be resold “as is” to consumers. No modifications to existing inventory held by distributors and importing distributors is allowed.

Although the option of purchasing beer in 12-packs would appear to be a clear win across the board, even MADD has come out against the case law, not everyone is happy about the PLCB ruling. The PA Brewers Association said “the PLCB have exceeded their legal authority” and that the ruling paves the way for the sale of 18-packs. A size that favors “foreign-owned, mega-brewers” and is a “predatory, ‘loss leader’.” The trade association, that represents and promotes Pennsylvania-based breweries says the ruling will put local brewers at a competitive disadvantage.

12-Packs as Single Original Containers (PDF) [PLCB]

So Here’s A Funny Story…

RubbSuspendedSome of you out there might’ve noticed the big, white SUSPENDED LICENSE sign hanging in the window of the new Rubb BBQ in Manayunk on Monday night. I know for a fact that DJ Seersucker did, because he posted the snap over there on Instagram, with the clever observation that “They Rubb-ed one out tonight”–‘They’ presumably being the PLCB.

And while yes, a sign like that generally spells doom for just about any restaurant that sports one, this one comes with kind of a funny story…

See, I put in a call to Shawn Kelly at the PLCB to see what was up because it seemed to me that Rubb simply hadn’t had its license long enough to violate its terms. And Kelly came back to explain to me that they hadn’t–that, really, they were paying the price for someone else’s violations.

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