Pennsylvania is usually recognized as having some of the most strict alcohol rules in the country; however, an opinion by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board in December of last year may demonstrate a loosening of some of those strict rules. The LCB opinion declares that certain licensees are permitted to offer delivery service of beer and malt brewed beverages to their customers. Currently most retail licensees holding an E, H or R license are permitted to sell up to 192 ounces or two six packs of beer or malt brewed beverages to customers for consumption off premises. December’s opinion says that licensees that presently sell beer or malt brewed beverages for off premises consumption are permitted to deliver that product to the customer provided that the transaction or point of sale take place on the licensed premises. In other words a customer can order up to two six packs to be delivered to them if they use a credit or debit card over the phone. The licensee then has the responsibility to verify the age of the customer at the time of delivery. Cash cannot be used in this type of transaction because in that instance the transaction would not occur on the licensed premises. If a retail licensee wishes to deliver alcohol for off-premises consumption, that licensee must also acquire a transporter-for-hire Class B license. A Class B license permits the holder to engage in the commercial transportation of malt or brewed beverages from a licensed location in the Commonwealth to points also located within the Commonwealth. The Class B license is issued by the LCB but requires a separate application and fee as well as an annual renewal fee. A Class B license holder may deliver food it prepares along with beer and malt brewed beverages, however, it may not transport both malt or brewed beverages and commodities that are not related to the food or beverage from the licensed establishment in the same vehicle at the same time. One very important note, the delivery vehicle can only be owned or leased by the licensee. Additionally, the Class B license holder may only transport alcohol that it does not own, such as alcohol that a customer has purchased. The Class B licensed vehicle cannot be used to pick up alcohol that the retail licensee has purchased from a beer distributor.
The opinion issued in December is considered by some to be a dramatic change by the LCB. It is expected that the Bureau of Liquor Code Enforcement will be keeping a close eye on businesses that take advantage of this new policy. We stand ready to assist any licensee interested in pursuing beer delivery to help with the many nuances of this opinion and the application process.
— J. Ken Butera