Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Pennsylvania state stores have shuttered and buying alcohol is limited, at best. In addition, fans of Pennsylvania craft breweries, like ourselves, have been shut out of visiting our favorite taprooms. Prior to this, there were some breweries that shipped directly to consumers across the state through well-planned and set up third-party shipping services. However, this crisis coupled with Pennsylvania’s reinstatement of Prohibition for spirits has significantly increased demand. This demand has led more breweries to deliver directly to Pennsylvania consumers during this outbreak. Unfortunately, the third-party shippers in existence already had a limited capacity to take on more clients and orders.
Thanks to the advocacy by our office on behalf of the Brewers of Pennsylvania, UPS has corrected its shipping rules to allow Pennsylvania licensed breweries to ship directly to consumers through its platform and shipping services. Prior to this, although shipping was permitted in Pennsylvania of breweries products, companies such as UPS were not taking shipments because of their belief it was not legal. We are happy to report that this has changed, and we will hopefully see many more UPS drivers delivering beer packages (or porch bombs as they are creatively known in the industry) direct to consumers.
Now, into the legal fine print of this all. Generally, Pennsylvania licensed breweries are permitted to sell their own products for on-premises and off-premises (to-go) consumption to consumers. Additionally, breweries are permitted to deliver and transport their own products without obtaining any additional licensing, which is why you will see many breweries doing local deliveries. Due to their ability to sell their own products to-go, the option of shipping products throughout Pennsylvania direct to consumers is legal but must be shipped by licensed third-party shippers. The major shipping companies did not previously permit breweries to ship through them, but now we know at least UPS will.
In addition to breweries, and for those seeking beer products that are not made by Pennsylvania breweries, Pennsylvania retail licensees and distributors have the ability to sell all beer to-go, which permits them to ship products, as well through licensed shipping companies. Retail licensees can obtain a transportation license and do the shipping or delivery themselves and the distributor’s licenses permit them to deliver as well. Regardless, the same third-party shipping services can be utilized by retail licensees and distributors. There are other factors that come into play with territories these types of licensees can ship to and quantity limitations for retailers, but that is for another blog post. For Pennsylvania breweries, beer can be delivered anywhere in the Commonwealth in unlimited quantities.
In short, there are many options to get high-quality craft beer directly shipped to your doorstep. We are hopeful that UPS opening shipments for breweries will increase their options of selling products during these times and will further increase consumer access to these products. Stay safe everyone.
For information regarding national and state liquor law matters or general manufacturing and distribution advice, please contact our Liquor Law, Licensing, Manufacturing, and Distribution Practice Group: Liquor Law Department Chair Theodore J. Zeller III, Esquire (firstname.lastname@example.org); David C. Berger, Esquire (email@example.com) for Pennsylvania and New Jersey retail and manufacturing licensing; or contact our offices at 610-391-1800.
The information contained in this post may not reflect the most current developments, as the subject matter is extremely fluid and constantly changing. Please continue to monitor this site for ongoing developments. Readers are also cautioned against taking any action based on information contained herein without first seeking advice from professional legal counsel. For other topics related to COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus Thought Leadership Connection.