Have you picked up a six-pack or refilled your growler lately? As of this week you have a new option in Pennsylvania. Act 166 was passed in the fall and went into effect on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. It allows beer distributors to offer six-packs, individual bottles and cans, and even growlers for sale.
This legislation came in large part because the beer distributors were left out of much of the liquor reform that occurred earlier this summer with the passage of Act 39. In that bill, which has generated much attention, restaurant licensees were given the ability to sell wine to-go, provided they obtain the appropriate permit, and breweries, distilleries, and wineries in PA were given the ability to sell other Pennsylvania-produced products, even if they had not manufactured it themselves. Those were some rather sweeping changes to the Liquor Code that benefitted those industries but beer distributors were left out.
Opportunities for beer distributors came in Act 166, which they claim will better allow them to compete with the various bottle shops, grocery stores, and other establishments which sell smaller quantities of beer. It was not that long ago that the PLCB changed its position and allowed beer distributors to sell 12-packs, but this legislation adds even more options for distributors and consumers.
Most beer distributors were easily able to accommodate the sale of 12-packs but it remains to be seen how quickly distributors will change their business model and sell six-packs, individual bottles, and growlers. Many of them may require renovation or other arrangements to increase cooler space in order to display smaller quantities. So while you may not see an immediate change at your neighborhood beer distributor, I expect that most of those that want to continue to compete in this ever changing market will make some change to their business model in order to take advantage of the recent change. Stay tuned as we continue to monitor Liquor Code changes in Pennsylvania.