Can't Buy a Cold Beer at Convenience Stores in Indiana

Seemingly arbitrary regulation yields a federal lawsuit


not in indiana you don't

Indiana is apparently the only state in the union that* regulates alcohol by its temperature, forcing convenience stores to sell warm beer. Those stores are now suing the state alcohol and tobacco commission.


"The constitutional claim at issue are pretty simple," said attorney John Maley.  "It's to be treated equally, to be treated fairly."

One of the things pointed out in the lawsuit is the fact that convenience stores in Indiana can sell cold wine. 

"This just doesn't make sense," said Greg Cobb of Freedom Oil.

Beer and wine are the number three carryout items in Indiana convenience stores behind tobacco and energy drinks.  Store owners say that if they were allowed to sell the beer cold, beer and wine would immediately jump to number two.  And that, say convenience store owners, would lead to big changes.

Probably anybody that has a convenience store in Indiana, if they give this right," said Imus, "They're immediately going to go down and apply for a building permit and build a beer cave."

And if nothing changes, they say, investment will go elsewhere. 

"Thorton's has not built a convenience store in Indiana since 2006," said David Bridgers of Thorton's convenience stores, "for the sole reason of its antiquated alcohol laws."

The General Assembly in Indiana, WISHTV notes, last month killed a bill that would've permitted cold beer sales at convenience stores. Land of the free!

More Reason on alcohol regs here.

*Update: A reader writes in to let us know the state of Oklahoma also regulates alcohol sales by temperature, mandating any liquor with more than a 3.2 percent alcohol content be sold at room temperature.

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  1. When I was in Indiana they had these thing called coolers. We put ice on top the beer in them. Didn’t need electricity or anything. Thought they were solar until I saw one used all night.

    1. You can put it in a bucket and spray it with a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher. Works like a charm. Instant ice cold.

  2. I don’t drink beer, but even I know that refrigerated beer is more convenient for those who do. How can it live up to the title of convenience store without it? (assuming it sells beer at all)

  3. But if you sell cold beer at convenience stores people will buy beer and drink it on the way home while driving and then they’ll be drunk driving and then they’ll run over little children and kill them! Why do you hate little children?

    1. Because little children are obnoxious and clog up the wheel wells. They should be at the mill, earning a living.

      1. I will pay those children more to work on my farm, and polish the wheels on my trucks. And my monocle.

        1. You want kids to “polish your monocle”?


  4. WHat is the legal definition of “cold”?

    1. Im guessing a special container than holds products less than the ambient temperature of the room.

      So you could probably run the AC at 34F and be legal.

      1. Yeah, build a convenience store/theme park called “Arctic Experience!” Sell souvenir toboggan gear. Oh, and BTW, beer at room temperature.

      2. There’s probably a requirement that you keep the store at least at some temperature level to be ‘safe’ for customers…

      3. Or position the A/C outlet so it just happens to pump out the cold air at the beer and wine section.

  5. As silly as the law is, at least IN allows beer to be sold in convenience stores.

    [stares at all the states with silly state run ABC store laws]

    1. Indeed. Those os us in Ontario are still dreaming of the day the LCBO/Brewers Retail lose their monopoly on alcohol sales. Speaking of which, the Union who represents LCBO employees is threatening a strike this weekend.

      1. Yeah, was reading about that. The article I was reading pointed out that you can buy beer directly from your local craft breweries. It was encouraging yall to do that instead of following the LCBO advice to stock up.

        So not exactly a monopoly.

        1. MONO = ONE
          RAIL = RAIL

          1. mmmmm…donuts

          2. Is there a chance the cap could bend?

  6. That’s way better than New Jersey. At least in Indiana you can buy beer at a convenience store – even if it is warm. In New Jersey you have to go to an actual Liquor Store with their horrible hours or go to a bar to get your beer which is stupidly expensive…

    1. just like the rest of NJ…stupidly expensive and you can’t pump your own gas…

    2. What’s a “Liquor Store?”

      –your neighbor, PA

      1. One of those stores that you leave the state to shop in.

  7. Yet another reason why New Orleans wins. I can purchase any potable intoxicant 24/7 and drink it anywhere I please (even in the automobile as long as I am not alone). The prudishness of the rest of our nation state astounds me.

    1. Cindy, Dennis, Katrina and Rita convinced me the Gulf coast ain’t for me. I went back to the Chesapeake.

    2. Nothing like picking up some bourbon at the gas station. Best state in the country for road trip supplies.

  8. In my college days in Starkville, MS, the city prohibited sales of cold beer too.

    That restriction in a town full of engineering students was just a challenge to see how quickly you could chill a case. The winners were always the guys who had liquid nitrogen access 😀

  9. In Sweden they have the no cold beer rule and you have to buy singles. On top of that the state run stores had ridiculously short hours and the taxes were through the roof. Probably the worst alcohol laws I’ve seen. Made getting some beer while backpacking without fridges and what not pretty inconvenient.

    1. Yeah. You have to set the beer outside.

  10. Hey one thing at a time. It was that long ago here in Indiana when you couldn’t buy any alcohol in a convenience store.
    As an aside, I was not happy when my local convenience store started stocking beer and wine because they sacrificed shelf space to it that had carried things I bought far more frequently (cat food, bread, diapers and about 1/2 the OTC cold medicine)—besides I wouldn’t be caught dead drinking the beer they DO stock (Coors, Bud, and Miller).

  11. Hi. Pennsylvania here. Just checking in for a chuckle.

    We have a privatization bill going through the legislative process right now. It passed the House, but the Senate is about as likely to pass it as Lindsay Lohan is to become sober.

    Awesome, huh?

  12. Probably anybody that has a convenience store in Indiana, if they give this right,” said Imus, “They’re immediately going to go down and apply for a building permit and build a beer cave.”

    If freedom is restored, you’ll have the right to… apply for a permit! Yay.

  13. I propose we outlaw the use of heating or cooling systems in any state legislature’s meeting hall. Let law be served at ambient temperature, too.

  14. Have politicians not learned? You NEVER mess with America’s access to cold beer.

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