As if the already existing “beer wars” within the three-tier system in the United States wasn’t bad enough, the state of Pennsylvania has decided to wage its own war with its beer industry.
Pennsylvania does not have the best reputation within the beverage industry. PA residents have been protesting against its wacky beverage laws and strict controls for some time now. Joe Roberts, the very entertaining (and knowledgeable) author of 1WineDude, sums up the the frustration of Pennsylvania residents best in his blog post entitled “I Hate The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.” Here is an excerpt: “I hate the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. I hate the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. I hate the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. I hate the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. I hate the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. I hate the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.“
If you do not live in or have never visited Pennsylvania, you are probably not aware of all its liquor laws and limitations. The state bans the sales of alcohol in grocery stores, restricts Sunday sales of alcohol to only 25% of outlets, prohibits independent liquor stores (state only), tightly limits hours of operation, etc…
In his article for Philadelphia Weekly, Tow Cowell states: “Most any Pennsylvanian could poll their block or workplace and find near-universal loathing of our liquor laws.“
Pennsylvania’s latest assault against the beverage industry comes as no surprise. According to the Philadelphia News, “More than a dozen armed State Police officers conducted simultaneous raids last week on three popular Philadelphia bars known for their wide beer selections. The cops confiscated hundreds of bottles of expensive ales and lagers, now in State Police custody at an undisclosed location.“
The alleged offense? The PA police claim that owners of the three targeted establishments had neglected to register the exact names of the beers with the state Liquor Control Board. The LBC requires the brewers and importers to pay a $75 registration fee for each product they want to sell in Pennsylvania.
So although the bar owners had bought the beer legally from licensed Pennsylvania distributors, paying all the necessary taxes, failure to register precise brand names resulted in the confiscation of over $7,000 in beer.
Oddly enough, small craft breweries were not the only ones affected by the raid. In addition to Russian River’s highly coveted Pliny The Younger, Belgian import Duvel and corporate owned Heineken were also confiscated.
…I wonder exactly where they are storing the beer. Can we say … party at the Philly police station?!