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Buying Beer in Philly Is Getting a Little Easier

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Delivery and diversified options at beer distributors are both becoming a reality.

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Despite Philadelphia's status as a world-class beer-drinking town, anyone who lives here knows that buying the stuff at retail can be a bit of a headache. 24-packs and kegs are sold at distributors, while six- and 12-packs live elsewhere. If you want to pick up a case or two of beer for a party but grab a smaller quantity of cider for your one beer-shy friend, you need to make separate stops. Throw in a wine- or liquor-only drinker, or consider the need for some groceries to sop up the booze, and suddenly you could be spending all day running errands. But the situation is improving, slowly but surely.

As of today, beer delivery is a reality, thanks to newly reopened Hawthorne's. You can still only purchase a maximum of 192 fluid ounces — same as existing takeout rules elsewhere — but easy online ordering means your purchase (including growlers and mixed six-packs) can be dropped off at your door in an hour or less. So far, the service only operates in Center City and South Philly, but Hawthorne's promises to expand to more neighborhoods soon.

Meanwhile, word also came down today from the PA Liquor Control Board that beer distributors in Pennsylvania will be allowed to begin selling beer in quantities smaller than a 24-pack. Six-packs are still out of the question — the minimum sale here is 128 fluid ounces, which allows for 12-packs. Still, this step should lead to a significant increase in variety and convenience.

Not everyone is fully happy with the decision, though. The Brewers of Pennsylvania (whose board includes members from Victory, Troegs, Yuengling, and others) have already put forth a statement taking issue with the move, which would facilitate sales of 18-packs. As 18-packs have traditionally been prohibited in Pennsylvania, they say the PLCB "has inexplicably handed a huge advantage to out-of-state, global brewing entities." The association has previously lobbied to allow the sale of six- and 12-packs at distributors, making today's announcement a sort of mixed victory for local brewers.