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

Sure there's wine in supermarkets and direct shipments but what else does the new PA liquor law mean?

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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.

What hasn’t been talked about much and has the potential to really be a game changer for Pennsylvania spirits, wine and beer producers, as well as consumers is that the state’s alcohol producers can now offer each other’s products at their distilleries, wineries and breweries as well as off-site tasting rooms. These off-site tasting rooms are a recent addition to the state’s liquor laws as well and allow PA producers to have up to five off-site locations to sell their products. A brewery with an off-site location in Center City Philadelphia for instance, would now be able to sell their beer plus Pennsylvania wine and spirits on premises. Only the beer would be allowed to be sold to go and other requirements, like closing by 11 p.m. would also be on the books. But we imagine creative producers will come up with some interesting retail arrangements.

Boxcar Brewpub in West Chester has already announced they are now featuring spirits from Phoenixville’s Bluebird Distillery.

Manatawny Still Works’ already planned tasting room on East Passyunk now has the option to offer a wider range of drinks to customers. Whether they do however is still up in the air as each producer will have to weigh whether offering more choices might just dilute the brand they’re really trying to promote. Yards Brewing for instance, has no plans to add spirits to its tasting room. Founder Tom Kehoe tells us, “we view the tasting room as a marketing tool that treats visitors to a brewery experience with the sights, smells and tastes of our beer being made.” Kehoe does think the rules “might make more sense for a start-ups and younger breweries but it requires upfront investment and human resources.”

UPDATE: Randy McKinley, the vice president of Sales and Marketing at Manatawny Still Works has already started sending their spirits to five central and western breweries including Rivertowne and Voodoo Brewing. Closer to home, Saint Benjamin’s Tap Room is mixing up cocktails with Manatawny spirits and you can now find the booze across the street from Manatawny’s Pottstown Tasting Room at Sly Fox Brewing.

We here at Foobooz are excited to see what local distillers, winemakers and brewers do with the new opportunities. We imagine some formerly awkward vacant spots with good foot traffic could see new life as tasting bars, showcasing just how good PA producers products are.