Is Anyone Torn Between the Troegenator Double Bock and Bud Light?

The Pennsylvania legislature is considering a bill that would loosen restrictions on beer sales. Under current rules, you can buy one or two six-packs at a time from a bar or a specially licensed deli, convenience store, or supermarket. You can also buy beer from distributors, but only in cases. When I was living in Pennsylvania (where I grew up and got my first job after college), the upshot was that you could choose between the meager, relatively expensive selection at a retail outlet or the bigger, cheaper selection at a distributor, but that only made sense if you wanted a lot of a particular beer. You could not go to a store and, say, pick an interesting selection of three different six-packs, as people in other states routinely do. The proposed changes would allow people to buy any configuration up to a case from a distributor and any configuration up to 18 bottles from a retail outlet.

This seems like good news not only for consumers but also for microbrewers, since it allows people to more easily sample a wider variety of beers in smaller quantities. Yet according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania's microbrewers (or some of them, at least) are worried about beer deregulation:

The Trogners [owners of Troegs Brewing, near Harrisburg], like many in Pennsylvania's community of 67 beer brewers, believe they could get slammed by what is termed a "beer reform" measure winding through the legislature.

It is intended to give Pennsylvania beer lovers more choice, including the ability finally to buy a six-pack conveniently.

But the proposal has sent waves of anxiety through state beer brewers—many of them family owned microbreweries—who fear it will give an edge to out-of-state brewing giants and cut into their much smaller profits.

In-state brewers, including the Trogners, don't mind the expanded access to six-packs.

The problem for many is the proposal to allow the sale of 12- to 18-packs of beer: Smaller breweries don't have the packaging equipment to produce those sizes. It would give larger breweries an even larger price advantage.

If you are a microbrewer trying to compete on price with flavorless, mass-produced swill like Budweiser, you might want to consider another line of work. Troegs produces a wide variety of tasty beers, so why should it worry about drinkers who buy 18-packs of Coors Light? Its competition is imported beers and other American microbrews, over which it does have a price advantage in Pennsylvania. Microbrewers, of all people, should be able to appreciate the virtues of greater consumer choice.

Jay Brooks considered the microbrew industry as a "long tail" phenomenon in the October 2006 issue of reason.

[Thanks to an anonymous reader whose email address I don't recognize for the tip.]

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Episiarch||

    Is Anyone Torn Between the Troegenator Double Bock and Bud Light?

    That depends--which is better for a boilermaker?

  • Jozef||

    Here's a novel idea: allow people of legal age to buy any kind of booze they want in any quantity, and abolish state alcohol license, instead allowing anyone to sell booze.

  • ||

    Liquor laws in Pennsylvania are like something out of the move Brazil.

  • New World Dan||

    I don't think the Troegs are worried about Bud, they're worried about the mid size upscale brands like Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada, which are both readily available in 12 packs.

  • Abdul||

    The glasnost in PA liquor laws in the last few years is amazing. Stores open on Sundays, taking credit cards, waiving the requirement that purchasers of demon rum step over their own mothers. And now, mix & match cases of beer! Oh sweet, intoxicating freedom.

  • Bingo||

    I regularly pick up a 6-pack of microbrewed stuff for 50 cents more than a sixer of Bud Light, which tells me that competing on price isn't exactly impossible.

    He could have a point in that people will be more willing to dish out cash for less expensive out-of-state microbrews though.

  • lunchstealer||

    joe | March 5, 2008, 12:01pm | #
    Liquor laws in Pennsylvania are like something out of the move Brazil.


    Or Strange Brew.

    Yeah. OK, well, uh, we found, uh, this mouse in a bottle of YOUR BEER, eh. Like, we was at a party and, uh, a friend of ours - a COP - had some, and HE PUKED. And he said, uh, come here and get free beer or, uh, he'll press charges.

  • lunchstealer||

    And just to let everyone know, I can get sixes or twelves of things like Sam Adams, Heineken, Shiner, Dos Equiis, Fat Tire, and sometimes Redhook and Sierra Nevada. I get a twelvepack maybe once or twice a year for parties. Otherwise I buy almost exclusively sixpacks, because I like to drink different beers. The people of Pennsylvania should be able to figure that out.

    Besides, who ever heard of an 18 pack of bottles? That's just for canned beer, and if you're canning your beer, you deserve what you get.

  • Duff Man||

    Rent-seeking hippie scum.

  • robc||

    The case law is weird for micros. I never really want to buy 24 of any micros (at a time) and I never want to buy 1 of BMC, so 24 (or even 12) packs dont interest me.

    Then again, I make the equivalent of 2 24 packs when I homebrew. I have a sticke alt and a nut brown in keg right now and another nut brown in secondary (experiment with making my own brown malt) and the ingredients ready to make a Marzen.

    So, I tend to make in quantities larger than Im willing to buy.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Dick Thornburgh tried mightily to bring Pottsylvannia into the modern world by abolishing the state liquor monopoly. It never happened.

  • robc||

    lunchstealer

    That's just for canned beer, and if you're canning your beer, you deserve what you get.

    Really good beer?

    Cans have huge advantages over bottles.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    .... flavorless, mass-produced swill like Budweiser, you might want to consider another line of work....

    Whaddya got against rice beer?

    Cereally, nicely made point. Spot on, too.

  • ||

    Buying microbrews in mass quantities seems absurd. 18 packs of canned slurm are fine for any event where you start drinking beer at 11 a.m. and will not likely stop before 8 p.m. Otherwise, people who appreciate a fine sour beer will continue to buy the small quantities.

  • ||

    The folks I know in Pennsylvania only buy stuff from their local breweries anyway. But maybe this is biased because the guys I know drink a lot of beer

  • ||

    I found the media bias in this article particularly interesting (alarming). Its so heavily favored to the small business, "Woah is me, we may actually have to compete if the byzantine laws of pennsyltucky are corrected."

    I love the Inky but this is just piss poor reporting.

    Tell Troegs to man-up and compete in a fair market place... if you're product is truly superior and you offer a fair market price you will be prosperous... if not, what the hell is the point?

  • robc||

    Otherwise, people who appreciate a fine sour beer will continue to buy the small quantities.

    I cant afford anything but small quantities of Cantillon Gueuze. Yum!

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Cans have huge advantages over bottles.

    I would say that aluminum cans are okay, but you ain't lived until you open an old-style steel beer can and swill down liquid that tastes more like can than beer.

    Frankly, I'll take my beer on draft or bottled. Unless it's really, really hot out and I'm beat up from working on the hillside or out in the boat. Then I'll drink swill beer out of a can and like it.

    You cannot drink good beer on a hot day (especially if it's really muggy). It isn't possible to do so. One's body goes into full scale bloatation induced revolt.

  • Bingo||

    The local breweries here have no problem turning out 12-packs, I just don't buy them for the reasons robc pointed out. This guy is either very lazy or an idiot if he thinks that assembling 12 beers into one package is all that difficult.

  • robc||

    TWC,

    Drink out of the can?

    I aint doing that. You pop the can and then pour into the proper glassware. Ditto for bottles. You swillin' that wine straight from the box?

    You cannot drink good beer on a hot day

    My annual 4th of July homebrewed hefeweizen disagrees. And nothing goes better on a hot summer day than a nice Saison. You just have to pick the **right** good beer. Drinking a doppelbock would be silly.

  • ||

    The only 12-packs I ever buy are from Sam Adams or regional breweries that have their "themed variety pack" twelvers. Otherwise, a six is it. Too many beers in the world to drink the same one too often (unless, of course, the brewer was me.)

  • ||

    WRT this guy not being able to produce anything less than a 24 pack, be reminded that his current business model is based on Pennsylstupid's old laws. If he thinks it's that important though he should get moving with his box vendor to get cartons divided into 6-packs or something.


    You swillin' that wine straight from the box?

    I have actually done this

  • Episiarch||

    You swillin' that wine straight from the box?

    I have actually done this


    Ditto. What? Don't look at me like that.

  • ||

    I know the libertarian bias is to favor deregulation of alcohol sales, but strange brew [will] kill what's inside of you.

  • ||

    One positive thing about the case laws IIRC is the fact its basically the only reason Yuengling has survived in the era of Bud/Miller/Coors.

    Yuengling is great because its not really shitty swill, but it sold at the same price as Bud.

  • Bingo||

    Straight from the box, bag, or bottle is pretty much necessary when watching the dem debates.

  • Ska||

    One step better - swilling wine from the bag you pulled out of the box.

  • thoreau||

    What joe said. Pennsylvania is a strange place, in terms of regulations. I interviewed at a private college there, and the college needed state approval to create a new major. I understand accreditation and all that, but state approval as well?

    To put it in perspective, the process for a new major at a public college in California is subject to less state oversight than the process at a private college in Pennsylvania.

  • ||

    Yeah, even as a poor college student, six-packs of microbrews and imports have been what gets me through most weekends. Why get sick off of Busch or Natural Light when $10 or less will get you six bottles of beer that, surprisingly enough, doesn't suck? (Personally, I'm partial to Spaten Optimator Doppelbock, Erdinger Oktoberfest Weizen, and Bell's Special Double Cream Stout.)

    Agree with Bingo, however... if a local guy can't box twelve bottles together (most of the locals here can, and do with their more popular brews), I really wonder about the creativity they put into their beer...

  • ||

    The glasnost in PA liquor laws in the last few years is amazing. Stores open on Sundays, taking credit cards, waiving the requirement that purchasers of demon rum step over their own mothers. And now, mix & match cases of beer! Oh sweet, intoxicating freedom.

    Ha! Don't be fooled. It's a tidbit thrown to the masses to make them happy and enable the PLCB to keep its communistic stranglehold on liquor and wine sales and keep the rent-seeking beer distributor and tavern industries in business without competition. It's a moribund and consumer-hating industry protection scheme.

  • Urkobold™||

    Die Urkobold gerne König Ludwig Weissbier. Ja, Schmackhafte!

  • lunchstealer||

    You swillin' that wine straight from the box?

    I have actually done this

    Ditto. What? Don't look at me like that.



    Hic. Which one of you?

    You cannot drink good beer on a hot day (especially if it's really muggy). It isn't possible to do so. One's body goes into full scale bloatation induced revolt.



    Sure you can. Just gotta pick the right beer. you don't want a dark, heavy, or high-alcohol beer for the reasons you list above. But a good whit, or some of the less-hoppy light ales, do okay. This is also the only application in which a Pilsener-style, good or bad, is drinkable. Most Maarzen-Oktoberfests are good in hot weather, too. They're literally made to be consumed starting at 8AM and drunk more-or-less continuously till midnight.

  • Taktix®||

    One positive thing about the case laws IIRC is the fact its basically the only reason Yuengling has survived in the era of Bud/Miller/Coors.

    Uhh, Yeungling survived prohibition. They're pretty resilient.

    But real reform will never some to PA. They way they have it structured, the distributor licenses are limited and can be sold or willed, so they tend to stay in one family or close circle. The only way to get a sixer after 10 or 11 p.m. is through a bar, and their licensing racket is similar to those of the distributors.

    So they bars and distributor end up having their own fiat union, and they push pretty hard to keep reform of the books.

    Glad I moved to Florida.

  • ||

    Yeungling has a brewery here in Tampa, near USF.

  • Episiarch||

    All this whining about PA. Try CT, jerkoffs. Used to be all liquor sales stopped at 8PM. No going into a bar and walking out with a six pack (like you can in NJ). You want alcohol after that point, go to the bar and stay there. No alcohol sales on Sunday. No alcohol sales on holidays. Supermarkets/grocery stores can sell beer only, same hours, but not gas stations or convenience stores.

    Recently, liquor stores were allowed to sell until 9PM. Yay!

  • Episiarch||

    I forgot to add that in CT, you learn very early to plan ahead in terms of alcohol for parties.

    Run out of beer on the 4th of July picnic? Too bad, asshole, unless you feel like driving to NY.

  • ||

    Tom Kehoe, president of Yards Brewing Co. in Philadelphia, agreed that the larger-size beer packs would put a strain on in-state brewers. But he does not believe it will drown the state's craft-beer businesses.

    Microbrews, Kehoe said, appeal to a different kind of beer drinker, who usually won't buy from "the big guys."


    Thank God at least one PA brewer doesn't have his head up his ass.

    Oh, and for the record, my favorite American beer comes in a can.

  • robc||

    ClubMedSux

    You could have at least picked a different Oskar Blues beer to link to than I did.

  • ||

    Thanks Jacob, for conjuring up grim memories of popping my (legal) liquor-buying cherry in the hell-on-earth that is the state stores of Pa. They almost took the fun out of drinking for me. Buying beer was a marginally easier task. I used to have a drive-thru distributor near my apartment when I lived in Harrisburg. They knew my order before I placed it. Try finding that kind of service from the DMV rejects selling vodka.

  • ||

    You could have at least picked a different Oskar Blues beer to link to than I did.

    Oops... Guess I missed that post. Either that or I'm trying to steal your identity and just really suck at it.

  • New World Dan||

    These days, I generally buy my beer in quantities of 7.75 gallons at a time. It's actually a lot harder to drink 63 pints before they go bad than you might think. Working solo, that is.

    Best beer in the world:
    Summit Extra Pale Ale

  • dhex||

    when it comes to cheap beer, yeungling is yeungking.

    on the topic of canned beers, you know what tastes so fucking weird? guinness from a can - it kinda has a weird burned cappuccino thing going on.

    but that's one beer that's only really good from a tap.

  • dhex||

    also, how awesome is this (true or not):

    "After the 18th Amendment was repealed in 1933, Yuengling sent a truckload of "Winner Beer" to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in appreciation, which arrived the day the amendment was repealed - particularly notable since Yuengling beer takes almost three weeks to brew and age."

    via wikipedia

  • kinnath||

    beer sucks, mead is the way to go.

  • ||

    beer sucks, mead is the way to go.

    BZZZZZZZZZZZ!
    Oh! i'm sorry, but we have a lovely parting gift for you anyway. Let's see what you chose behind door one...
    It was a case of Natty Light! Oh, I'm so sorry.

  • jp||

    I live in PA (though fortunately near a border). The liquor laws here are RETARDED.

  • ||

    One positive thing about the case laws IIRC is the fact its basically the only reason Yuengling has survived in the era of Bud/Miller/Coors.

    I think it's much more than that. After all, when you go into any bar or restaurant in the Philadelphia area and say "lager", everyone knows you mean Yueungling. In other words, around here, Yueungling is literally synonymous with an entire type of beer. Now if only they knew that "ale" should automatically mean Lord Chesterfield...


    Yeungling has a brewery here in Tampa, near USF

    Once again proving that Florida is 99% northeasterners. Nice brewery, though. Strangely, Georgia laws prohibit Vitamin Y from being sold there, which upsets my Atlanta friends greatly. Yay, Penna. is not the only state with awful alcohol laws! That said, the recent liberalisation of the PA liquor laws has had a profound effect already...now I only go to Delaware when I want a whole lot of the sauce.

  • ||

    All I know is I remember reading that Dick Yuengling loves the case law. Somehow (I forget how exactly) this allows him to price his beer at the same price point as BMC.

  • ||

    BTW, as for hot muggy days outside theres nothing like Miller High Life right out of the old-school bottle.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    My God. Is this the 21st Century, or did someone forget to tell the state of Pennsylvania?

  • ||

    BTW, as for hot muggy days outside theres nothing like Miller High Life right out of the old-school bottle.

    Mmm, the champagne of beers and the rolls royce of champagnes.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    You swillin' that wine straight from the box?

    depends upon how in the bag I am.........

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Oh, and for the record, my favorite American beer comes in a can.



    For the record, my favorite Oz beer comes in a can too. NSFW or kids.

  • ||

    The Alabama house just finally passed a bill that would raise the limit on the amount of alcohol in beer from 5% to over 13%. Yes - all those great beers that contain more than 5% of alcohol are not available here. It has taken several years of lobbying by a group called Free The Hops, who finally got it done this year by (it seems to me) hosting a free beer tasting for the legislators. Search for news coverage if you are interested in the ridiculous arguments that were made against the bill.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement