Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Time to get involved: Public Beer Laws Forum this Thursday at Yards

I'm going to be on the panel at another Philly Beer Scene Beer Laws Forum at Yards Brewing again, this Thursday at 7 PM. Hope you can come out; we had about 100 people last time, and I'd love to see more of you this time. Details on the forum can be found here, but I'd like to use this post to get you prepped up for the debate.

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.


Jon Geeting said...

You guys should press Chuck on Rep. Dan Moul's wine-only license proposal. Crucially, Rep. Moul doesn't want to cap the licenses, and would make them available for purchase by any restaurant that wants to buy one. I'd like to see a similar (uncapped) license regime with beer-only licenses - open container of course for dining in, not like the E licenses.

It would still be annoying that any restaurant wanting to serve alcohol can't just pay to do that, but it's probably an easier political lift than liquidating all the current tavern license holders. Let the restaurants and bars who really want to serve all alcohol types work under the County Quota system, and open up an unlimited number of beer-only and wine-only licenses to whoever wants to buy one.

Anonymous said...

Let's do something about getting the licenses back into the cities where people live, work and walk. they seem to all be going into the suburbs for chain restaurants.

Lew Bryson said...

Awesome, I LOVE that idea. I firmly believe that the state's licensing system is broken so badly that it can't be fixed.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, as a craft beer drinker, I like to bring my own beer. I can walk into hundreds of restaurants in Philadelphia and drink the exact beer that I want with my meal. Beer- and wine-only licenses will kill BYO, leaving us at the mercy of restaurant owners who will put no thought into their beer list beyond offering Sam Adams to (try to) placate craft beer drinkers.

I mean, I agree with the philosophical reasons for wanting more available licenses, but the practical effect on the Philly BYO scene would be negative, in my opinion.