You’ll Soon Be Able to Buy Six-Packs and Growlers From Beer Distributors

The new law, which Gov. Tom Wolf signed yesterday, takes effect in 60 days. Is full liquor privatization on the horizon?

Six packs of Victory beers

Six packs of Victory beer at the Old Nelson at 19th and JFK. | Photo: Dan McQuade

Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill yesterday that will allow Pennsylvania residents to buy six-packs and growlers to go from beer distributors.

The law, which will go into effect in 60 days, follows a liquor reform law passed this summer allowing consumers to buy wine on the go from restaurants, hotels and grocery stores or get it shipped directly to their homes (and even on Sundays).

Residents no longer have to leave Pennsylvania beer distributors lugging 24-packs and kegs, the previously required minimum quantities available for purchase. Act No. 166 will also allow bars to pour booze at 9 a.m. on Sundays (instead of 11 a.m.) and grant sporting venues the ability to sell mixed drinks. Plus, breweries without brewery pub licenses can sell the products of other breweries and distilleries.

“Pennsylvanians have waited decades to bring their beer and liquor systems into the 21st century,” Wolf said in a statement yesterday. “I’m proud today to sign this bill, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, to ensure that the commonwealth is more inviting for customers and businesses.”

Earlier this spring, Wolf pressed the Liquor Control Board to “free the six-pack” at Pennsylvania gas stations, prompting the organization to more hastily approve licenses at stations like Sheetz. At the time, beer distributors were unhappy about the competition.

The Pennsylvania Tavern Association opposed the recently signed bill. The organization has pushed for legislators to further “free the beer” by allowing taverns to sell larger quantities of beer.

In a statement, the PTA claimed that the bill will “cripple many bottle shop owners and members who have a healthy 6-pack business whose business model was developed around our license capabilities. This will de-value all of our licenses as it removes the 192-ounce carry-out privilege from it altogether.”

The state’s Republicans are also pushing for more privatization, which they believe could help close the state’s budget gap.

“Wine privatization has gone off very well to meet people’s expectations,”Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed told PennLive. “We could take that the rest of the way over the goal line and pick up a couple hundred million dollars.”

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