Pennsylvania Has The Dumbest Liquor Laws

Cartoon ©2012 Signe Wilkinson/Philadelphia Daily News
Cartoon ©2012 Signe Wilkinson/Philadelphia Daily News

Hey Pennsylvania, can we finally get over your state control over beer, wine, and spirits?

I know it’s early in the day, and I can’t understand why I’m thinking about a cold beer in the morning,… but it IS 2013, I think it’s time to break up the “Beer Distributor Monopoly” and start treating us citizens like the consumers we are, and not a bunch of idiots.

Just about every other state in the union will let you go into your local food market and buy a six-pack without a hassle, BUT NOOO, You force me to buy a case, or a heavily-marked up package of 6 or 12 at only a few locations.

Other than protecting your friends that have been in the business for some time, can anyone give me a good reason why PA can’t make a progressive change here?

A funny story from my own personal experiences here…

Having just moved up from Miami, FL, I went with my cousin Steve to the local grocery store to get some milk and eggs, and I asked him on the way in “Hey, let’s stop in the beer isle so I can get a six-pack” .. he chuckled and said yes.

After we went through the store and I picked up what was on my list, I hadn’t seen any beer, much less the entire section I was used to seeing. I asked “did we miss the beer isle?” and Steve said “nope, there isn’t one.”

Baffled at this, I asked why and that became a conversation discussing the topic today, about why Pennsylvania has such backwards liquor laws.

I remember dating a girl that went to Penn State and there was a limit as to how many ounces of beer you could buy at one time, and while it was a huge pain in the ass, I really thought this was because it was a college town, not the whole damn state.

Since then I’ve lived in FL, where you can buy a beer at just about every corner store. You can buy singles, six-packs, 12-packs, and cases; No problems.

I moved up here to Philly in September, and I found out about this whole scam that makes us goto a “distributor” where they basically sell beer by the case. So these distributors have a great deal, don’t they? Protected by the state, they basically do the least amount of work, and get the whole reward rock!  Now in some fairness they do offer a pretty good selection (probably the most I’ve seen), but in the end I have to buy a whole case from them! This means that they just receive the beer from the state approved wholesalers, and stack it up in their famous “beer distributor” store. Nice and neat huh? Well No! This is stupid and arcane!

This is alot like riding in a friend’s car, and they have locked the power window button and you can’t roll down your own window. You gotta ask your tight-wad friend to do it for you, totally making you feel like you’re unqualified to use that little switch on your passenger door.

I had this happen to me over 15 years ago, and obviously I remembered it! Special thanks to Larry Spott for teaching me how that worked, umm yeah.

Anyways, I digress!

I went to visit a good friend in NJ, and we went to a local store to get some groceries, and BAM! Holy Shit! There’s a whole isle full of beer and wine coolers! GTFO! Wait, is that selection and consumer choices? I dunno if I can handle all that, you gotta remember that I live in PA where apparently I’m not smart enough to handle it. Effing Idiots!

I got all twisted up recently when I found a sub shop that also had some coolers full of beer. I was like – Oh hell yeah I’m gonna buy a couple six-packs, one with cheap beer for me, and a few IPA’s for my wife.

I pick up three different six-packs, and when I finally got up to the front of the line, I put down all three and waited for the cashier to ring me up.

The dude looks at me and says “So I’m gonna ring one of these up separately, cool?” and I said “nooo, you can do them all in one transaction please, there’s plenty of room on my atm card.” I mean, the guy and a few people in line were starting to get all huffy with me.

He goes on to say “You’re not from around here, are ya?” and of course I said “no, why?” I then get the whole 30-second breakdown of the law from this sub shop cashier guy, like a full dissertation on the PA liquor laws. He really knew his stuff! But I’ll bet that’s because he’s had to tell that STUPID STORY a thousand times to unsuspecting people like me. He’s probably SICK AND TIRED of telling it, and having to roll his eyes when (yet another) consumer has to ask “why is this necessary?”

Did I mention that each 6-pack was almost $9?! What!

I think the great State of Pennsylvania needs to just bite the bullet and get this done. Sure, they could make some provisions that can help that local beer distributor that’s had a bangin deal on running his business for all these years, that guy’s gonna lose business if he can’t figure out how to market and advertise his business. That guy is going to have to become competitive in the market, and he’s going to have to offer a good selection too. I know plenty of beer/liquor stores in Florida and other states that are booming, even with the fact that you can buy beer in the local supermarket.

Time to get “real” about this stupidity and change the archaic set of laws that is obviously nothing more than a friendly, good ol boy deal that has been going on for way too long. Nobody does exclusive agreements anymore, why does PA still do business the old way?

We have EZ-Pass to pay our highway tolls, and that’s awfully modern, so why are we buying beer buy the case? Oh because that’s the way we’ve always done it here in Pennsylvania. Hummm…

I welcome any observations, opinions, and your own rants on this. I challenge someone to defend these stupid blue laws!

By Louis Wing

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About Louis Wing 68 Articles
I talk about this, that, and the other stuff. I have to admit I may ramble on and on... but I am usually driving to a point. Educated and street-smart, I like my beats downtempo. Read more about Louis Wing

1 Comment on Pennsylvania Has The Dumbest Liquor Laws


    This is a copy of what I sent to my legislators via the Website – which is a site dedicated to this cause.


    It is time to end this consumer-unfriendly lock on beer and wine sales by the powers that be. It is absolutely ridiculous that I can’t buy JUST a 6-pack of beer, that I MUST buy a whole case from a friend (of the powers that be). When I find a 6-pack at a store like Wegman’s – it’s $10!?! What?

    Because of this, I buy my beer in New Jersey on the way home from work, and I save. But by doing this, I also send that revenue to NJ and NOT PA, where ideally it should goto. This nonsense needs to stop.

    Get a real (modern) policy in place and create revenues for PA businesses. The current beneficiaries of the monopoly (aka beer “distributors”) will adapt and start to become more customer-service oriented, rather than the “Here’s a case of beer, you want to buy it?” attitude that they have. They will also survive, if they can start running their business like a business, and stop relaxing on their monopoly-ensured revenues.

    Time to step into the 21st century, and put this old political chicanery to rest. WE THE PEOPLE see what’s happening, and we’re tired of the unnaturally high prices and the poor consumer treatment we get.

    This “Take it or leave it PA” attitude is contemptuous and hurts our PA economy more than it helps us.

    Lui Kang
    Registered Voter/Beer Drinker

    I support legislation eliminating the prohibition on selling gasoline and beer at the same location that would allow convenience restaurant customers to buy beer. The House has already passed legislation that would achieve this goal and we need your support to ensure a majority of your colleagues pass similar legislation.

    Consumers want the convenience of buying beer at gas stations and convenience stores! As your constituent, I urge you to support the elimination of the “beer-gas prohibition,” as well as, any legislation that contains the beer-gas fix. Not doing so would certainly be considered a failure to modernize Pennsylvania’s arcane, anti-consumer beer-sale laws.

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