PLCB: Pennsylvania beer distributors can sell 12-packs
March 6, 2015 11:29 AM
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For years, beer distributors in Pennsylvania have been able to sell beer only by the case or keg.
By Bill Toland / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Beer distributors can now sell 12-packs in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
The PLCB’s Office of Chief Counsel issued a legal advisory today “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.”
For years, beer distributors have been able to sell beer only by the case or keg, while groceries, bars and convenience stores have gained the ability to sell six-packs, 12-packs, and individual bottles for consumption on premises.
State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Wilkins and ranking minority party member of the House Liquor Control Committee, called the PLCB opinion “a step in the right direction to provide consumer convenience.”
“By allowing these 12-packs to be sold at beer distributors, customers get another choice in their beer selections,” he said. “It provides family-owned distributors more options in their product line [and supports] our breweries in Pennsylvania, so it’s a win-win situation.”
Two local distributors have played a major role in forcing the PLCB to confront the case-size question.
Pistella Beer Distributors in Friendship, owned by Frank Pistella — who also is the first vice president of the Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania — and Save-Mor Beer in Squirrel Hill sued the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board in the state’s Commonwealth Court last year. They also posed the question directly to the PLCB, as did Rivertowne Brewing, seeking an opinion on the case-size issue.
“It’s really the first real big change for us in 60 or 70 years,” said Steve Klein, owner of Sav-Mor. “It’s more variety for the consumer. People want the ability to buy different things.”
It could take several weeks or more for distributors and, more crucially, their wholesale suppliers, to get new inventory into the system. Because the 12-packs (or 15-packs, or 18-packs) must be packaged as such by the manufacturer, distributors and wholesalers can’t simply cut existing cases in half and sell them separately.
That’s because the cases must be sold “in their original containers,” according to the PLCB guidance on the issue.
Prior to today’s opinion, distributors were generally restricted to selling cases or larger individual units, such as half-kegs, quarter-kegs and more.
A “case” of beer, according to Act 84 of 2006, is “a package prepared by the manufacturer for sale or distribution of 12 or more original containers totaling 264 or more fluid ounces of malt or brewed beverages, excepting those packages containing 24 or more original containers each holding seven fluid ounces or more.”
In a statement, the state’s Malt Beverage Distributors Association said that “today's decision accurately reflects the law enacted by the General Assembly many years ago and is best for our customers as it brings the marketplace closer to meeting their needs.”
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