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rjbs (4671)

rjbs
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I'm a Perl coder living in Bethlehem, PA and working Philadelphia. I'm a philosopher and theologan by training, but I was shocked to learn upon my graduation that these skills don't have many associated careers. Now I write code.

Journal of rjbs (4671)

Friday February 01, 2008
10:19 AM

death to the liqour control board

[ #35554 ]

Ugh. A while ago, I wrote about the difficulties involved in getting wasted in Pennsylvania. Normally, it only affects me as trivia. The thrice-cursed monopoly's stores carry the brands that I'm used to buying. Their prices aren't intolerable.

This week, however, they have lost me forever. As far as I'm concerned, the PLCB needs to be busted.

Rye whiskey is a traditional style of American whiskey, and Pennsylvania used to produce a lot of it before Prohibition. Now it mostly comes from bourbon-producing states, like Kentucky -- even labels that use Pennsylvanian names and recipes, like Rittenhouse Rye. Rittenhouse produces some of the best-reviewed rye out there, and recently won awards at one show for being both the best rye and the best value.

I really want a bottle of it.

The monopoly store didn't have any on the shelf. In fact, they didn't have any rye. I went to the PLCB website and found that the only rye whiskey they distribute normally is Jim Beam. At first I couldn't find Rittenhouse at all, because it was listed under "Rye (Bottled-In Bond)" rather than "Rye (Straight)." This is a pretty bizarre distinction, and I can't imagine that none of the other ryes are bottled in bond. They probably just don't make noise about it.

Anyway, I found it, and their price is great: $12 a bottle. The bad news is that the only distributor they can get it from will only supply it by the case. So, think about that: the PLCB has a monopoly on liquor sales in the state, and they still can't offer me what I want because their hands are tied by some distributor.

At this point, in a state that was not insane, I would go to another store, but I can't. They're all the same, here. In a state that was not insane, I might then try ordering a bottle online, but I can't do that in Pennsylvania. Because of the PLCB, no one is allowed to sell booze to me over the internet -- except for the PLCB. Not only do they not sell Rittenhouse Rye at their web store, they don't sell any rye whiskey.

So, if I want to try a bottle of rye once made in my state, I need to either buy a case, find people with whom to split a case, or drive to New Jersey and buy it there. I think that the only sane option -- going to Jersey -- might actually be illegal. I'm going to do it anyway.

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  • The bit that really surprises me is that, as the government-operated monopoly, they aren't OBLIGATED to buy a case, just so they can give you one of them, and then, you know, put the rest on a shelf and sell it?

    I think it might be in Norway where exactly this happens.

    There's a state-run monopoly, but as part of that they are obligated to find a way to get you what you want.
    • I'm not a lawyer, but the Pennsylvania Liquor Code [state.pa.us] seems to imply that they can't make you buy more than two bottles. I guess it depends on what "provided that such product is available through the State store system" means.
  • I've heard that you _can_ order booze from outside PA, just that you need to have it delivered to a state store for pickup. a little google found this to be true: http://xrl.us/bfk3r [xrl.us] but maybe it's only wine... of course, things could be worse - when I first moved to PA you weren't allowed to charge alcohol. thankfully that changed :)
  • Your state liquor laws are weirder than Kansas'.