A concern raised by Pennsylvania’s growing microbrewing industry illustrates a common clash between brewpubs and the state’s Byzantine liquor laws.
The call came right around Memorial Day, says Iron Hill Brewery president Kevin Finn:
“Cease and desist your Mug Club immediately,” he was told.
Finn’s business runs six brewery restaurants, including one that opened last year in Chestnut Hill, in the commonwealth.
The “mug club” flagged by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has been part of his establishments for 15 years.
He says members accumulate points for the purchase of food and alcohol – and there’s another big selling point.
“You drink out of a bigger mug,” Finn said.
LCB spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman says the rules about mug clubs aren’t new, although they may be new to Iron Hill Brewery.
“It can be a little challenging and a little daunting to go through the Liquor Code,” Kriedeman said.
Kriedeman says certain mug clubs have long been illegal, because they could entice customers to buy more alcohol and offer discounts to only certain people.
Finn has changed the policy, but he’s asking House lawmakers to take note.
At a recent hearing of the House Liquor Control Committee, Finn argued the rules conflict with reasonable business practices
Iron Hill Brewery also has restaurants in Lancaster, Media, North Wales, Phoenixville, and West Chester.