Breweries want changes to Pa. liquor privatization bill

    As the state assembly counts down to a vote on a proposal to privatize Pennsylvania’s liquor sales, brewers say they have problems with what’s in the legislation. The state’s beer-makers say it could help wine and spirits at the expense of locally brewed beer.

    Bill Covaleski is both the founder of Victory Brewing Company and the President of the Brewers of Pennsylvania.

    “We are concerned,” said Covaleski on behalf of the group,”that [the bill] initiates proliferation of wine and spirits licenses that could be detrimental to the outcome for beer.”

    The legislation would create 1,200 liquor licenses to be auctioned off around the state. Beer distributors would have the first rights to bid on those licenses to add wine and liquor to their wares — but that could mean squeezing some brews off their shelves.

    On the other hand, Covaleski believes the bill will help customers down the road by phasing out a restrictive system of state-owned liquor stores.

    “Hopefully this thing can be polished into a better form that it not punitive to any stakeholders but again serves the better needs and the better interests of the end consumer.”

    He thinks the bill could be revised as it goes through the state senate.

    Pennsylvania-based Yuengling, the country’s oldest brewery, belongs to the coalition of Pennsylvania brewers. Giants Annheuser-Busch and MillerCoors have also written to legislators asking for changes.

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