LCB Launching “PA Spirits Program”

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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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In Pa. House, a Fresh Push for Liquor Privatization

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A fresh push to privatize the state’s liquor store system is brewing in the Pennsylvania House, NewsWorks reports.

Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed told NewsWorks that his chamber may revive a privatization bill that passed the House and failed the Senate two years ago.  The Senate’s Republican majority has gotten larger and more conservative since then.

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Limited Tickets Remain to Philly Chef Conference

philly-chef-conference-sunday-940Drexel University’s second annual Philly Chef Conference takes place this Sunday and Monday. Monday’s chef-only sessions are already sold out but a limited number of tickets remain to Sunday, January 11th’s public event.

In addition to a keynote address by acclaimed baker and teacher, Peter Reinhart, Sunday’s schedule includes a panel on Pennsylvania liquor laws that will feature State Senator Chuck McIlhinneyJoseph Brion, head of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and several hospitality industry pros.

A second panel focuses on Philly 2020, a look into the future of Philadelphia’s dining scene. The panel is moderated by Sam Katz and will include the conference’s chair Kevin Sbraga as well as Jeff Benjamin of Vetri Family, Joncarl Lachman of Noord, Marcie Turney of Barbuzzo, and Rob Keddie of Garces Group.

Sunday’s sessions runs from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Bossone Research Center, Mitchell Auditorium at 3201 Market Street. Tickets are $20 per person and available on the Drexel web site.

Philly Chef Conference [Official]

Bars Used to Be Closed on Election Day in Pennsylvania

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It’s election day! You should be elated to have the freedom to vote today — and then to head to the bars afterward. It’s not a right you’ve always had in Pennsylvania.

All bars were closed in Pennsylvania on election day until 1973. That’s when an exemption was granted to bars that make 30 percent of their revenues from food and nonalcoholic beverages. Bars below that percentage had to close on voting days until 2001, when the state’s liquor laws were changed.

It wasn’t just Pennsylvania. A report by the federal government’s 1971 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse said most states prohibited alcohol sales on election day, at least in part. A 1906 report of the Pennsylvania Bar Association said retail and wholesale liquor sellers must be closed between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. on election day in the state.

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