March 6, 2015

Liquor Control Board Authorizes Beer Distributors To Sell 12-Packs

The Office of Chief Counsel of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Friday released a legal advisory opinion in response to inquiries from several licensees pertaining to malt or brewed beverage containers sold by a beer distributor.
In July 2014, an attorney for a Monroeville brewery, FYBOMAX INC. (LID 57763), asked the PLCB if the brewery could, under the Pennsylvania Liquor Code and PLCB regulations, “prepare a single large container of malt or brewed beverages consisting of twelve (12) smaller containers, each holding approximately twelve (12) fluid ounces, designed to be sold as a single unit.”
The Board recently received a similar request for an advisory opinion from two beer distributors, Save-Mor Beer & Pop Warehouse Inc. (LID 29477) and Nancy Pistella (LID 4707). According to the Liquor Code, the Board or its Chief Counsel must issue advisory opinions upon request.
Under the Liquor Code, breweries, malt or brewed beverage distributors and importing distributors can sell malt or brewed beverages to the public in two configurations: “case” quantities or “original containers containing at least 128 fluid ounces.”
Because the inquiring brewery’s proposed “single large container” would consist of 144 ounces of malt or brewed beverages, it exceeds the volume (128-ounce) requirement for an “original container,” so it would be permissible to market and resell it to other distributors and importing distributors as a single “original container” as prepared by the manufacturer.
Those single large containers cannot be separated or modified by anyone except the ultimate consumer.
Practically, this advisory opinion clarifies existing law by 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. No modifications to existing inventory held by distributors and importing distributors is allowed.
“Today’s action by the PLCB is a step towards modernization,” Gov. Wolf said. “This action provides customer convenience at distributors and enables smaller breweries, including many in Pennsylvania, to better compete with larger institutions.”
A copy of the advisory opinion is available online.