State liquor reforms in 2016 set table for 2017
Pennsylvania consumers enjoyed easier access to alcohol this year thanks to the passage of last year's Act 39 liquor law reforms. The reforms loosened longstanding restrictions on alcohol sales and led to a proliferation of small brewers and distillers in Central Pennsylvania.
Among other changes, the law allowed supermarkets and convenience-store chains to sell takeout wine on top of to-go beer they were already selling.
As a result, large chains have been converting liquor licenses or buying new licenses to expand their drinks menu. Many of the licenses have been purchased through a statewide auction system for expired restaurant liquor licenses, which was created by Act 39.
Cumberland County-based Giant Food Stores and its sister chain Martin's Food Market are now selling beer and wine at more than 50 stores in Pennsylvania.
York County-based Rutter's Farm Stores has opened 16 "Beer Caves" in its stores since the fall of 2016, citing Act 39 as the driving force. Rutter's has another 12 beer caves in the works.
Act 39 also gave Pennsylvania beer, wine and spirit makers the ability to sell other alcoholic products for on-site consumption, which has helped spur more craft producers, including cider makers and spirit makers.
Lawmakers chased Act 39 with Act 166, which granted beer distributors flexibility to sell six-packs, four-packs, singles for mix-a-six and larger bottles of rare or unusual beers. Distributors had been limited to selling cases and 12-packs.
The Act 166 changes, which took effect in early 2017, seem to be paying off for beer distributors, according to this recent story by the Business Journal.
Other craft headlines
Here are some other 2017 stories about craft alcohol growth in Central Pennsylvania:
- Craft beer producers continue to emerge: Hemauer Brewing is the latest one to pop up with plans for a 2018 opening in the Dillsburg area.
- New distilleries are about to open in Cumberland County: Appalachian Brewing Co. is helping Better World Spirits get started and a Lemoyne distillery is part of revitalization efforts in New Cumberland.
- Business of beer: The Business Journal hosted a new event focused on craft beer growth in Pennsylvania. The keynote speaker was Chris Lampe of Weyerbacher Brewing Co. in Easton.
- A new craft spirits trail debuts: The York County Convention & Visitors Bureau in September uncapped a list of 12 distilleries that are taking part in a new Keystone Craft Spirits Trail. A new beer trail was launched in Cumberland County in April.
- Troegs is still growing: Derry Township-based Troegs Brewing Co. launched a major brewery expansion project over the summer to boost its capacity.
- Harrisburg firm is documenting craft-beer growth: Harrisburg-based GK Visual, a photography and video production company, in March announced a new documentary project about craft beer in Pennsylvania.