The panel's going to be State Senator Chuck McIlhinney, representing the PA Legislature, Bill Covaleski of Victory Brewing, representing the brewers of Pennsylvania, and Mike Gretz Sr. of Gretz Beer Distributors, representing the beer wholesalers, Tom Kehoe of Yards, who is moderating the thing, and me, who's pretty much representing you, the beer drinker...or as I like to call us, the fourth tier.
We wanted to let you know what kind of things are going to come up. These are some questions we've been tossing around.
- First and most important: what can people do that's effective to stand for what they believe in about changing the state's liquor code? How do we effect change through the Legislature?
- We'd like to ask you, our beer-centric audience, how much spirits you buy in PA. Do you buy much wine and spirits at all, and when you do, do you buy them here, or do you cross the border. We'll do a show of hands, but if you want to comment here, that's good too. We'd also like to know if privatization of the state liquor stores interests you...and if it does, where do beer sales fit in that?
- Why is a simple sixpack sale change to the Liquor Code is so hard to make when Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly support it?
- What do you want? Do you want to do away with the case law? Privatize the state stores and make them "all alcohol" stores? Sell beer and wine in every grocery store? Or just increase the number of licenses?
- And what seems like a very simple, reasonable request from Tom Peters at Monk's Cafe: Can it be arranged that a restaurant licensee could get a "one-time" permit to receive beer from a currently unregistered brewery, pay the applicable taxes, and not have to go through an Importing Distributor?
That's what we're thinking about. We hope you're thinking about coming out Thursday night. Remember: privatization isn't over, the sixpack law change isn't over, they're just on legislative holiday. Next year it all starts up again, and we want something to happen. This is where that starts.
And yes, the bar at the brewery will be open for business. Debating is thirsty work.