Federal Judge shoots down cold beer sales in Indiana convenience stores

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Although experts encourage consumers to drink water, on a hot day like Tuesday a nice cold beer might just hit the spot.

After a year-long debate in federal court, an Indiana ruling stands. Residents who want a cold one, can only buy it from a liquor store.

“It is an inconvenience that a convenience store can’t sell it cold,” said customer Chris Beanblossom.

After failed attempts to influence legislators, The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association sued the state. It claimed the law violates their constitutional rights by denying them the ability to sell cold beer. Selling cold beer is a right held solely by liquor stores.

“They’ll certainly have their place in the marketplace. We just feel they shouldn’t have the only place,” said Scott Imus, IPCA Executive Director.

A federal judge denied the convenience store association’s request for the federal injunction.

“Surprised and disappointed both,” said Imus.

It breaks down to the type of permit. A convenience store has a beer dealer permit in Indiana. This means they can sell warm beer, it can’t exceed 25% of sales, anyone can enter the store, and clerks can sell alcohol at 19-years-old.

Indiana liquor stores have dealer permits. There are fewer to go around, so they’re more expensive. Clerks must be trained and at least 21-years-old. Patrons must also be at least 21 to go inside.

“Now, they’re trying to grab a little of that profit. I understand, there’s nothing wrong with that. But, I just, no. I don’t think they should sell it,” said customer John Johantges.

Claiming it keeps competition fair, The Indiana Association of beverage retailers is happy with the outcome. Patrick Tamm, Pres/CEO of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, says if the convenience stores win, cold beer could go in everywhere including stores like Wal-Mart.

“We can’t sell screwdrivers, we can’t sell produce. So, we don’t have that opportunity. We’re also regulated on terms of where we can locate,” said Tamm. “So, you pull and you change how that framework is, you’ll dramatically alter those small businesses throughout the state of Indiana.”

Indiana is the only state in the country to have an all-out ban on cold beer sales in convenience stores. IPCA has 30 days to appeal for a possible second try for customers to have the opportunity to buy a convenient cold one.

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