Indiana Allows Sunday Alcohol Sales, Keeps Cold Beer Laws on Books

Prohibition isn't totally defeated yet.


Birgit Korber |

Indiana has repealed its ban on Sunday carry-out alcohol sales, allowing people to buy beer, wine, and liquor on the Lord's Day for the first time since 1816. From now on, Indiana residents won't be forced to shuttle across the Ohio border when they need to pick up some last-minute booze for a party, nor will anyone be reminded mid-checkout that she must forgo that bottle of Merlot until Monday.

While 10 states still prohibit the sale of liquor on Sundays, Indiana had been the only one with a statewide ban on all alcoholic beverages.

"We couldn't unlock the doors until noon," Joel Massoth, owner of Decatur Package Liquors, told WANE on Sunday. "I got here at about ten 'til, and the whole parking lot was packed. Everyone was waiting at the door wanting to be the first one to walk in. Kind of a day in history. It's pretty cool seeing all the customers excited."

But Hoosier State drinkers have many battles left to fight. For instance, Indiana remains the only state to regulate beer based on temperature. Yes, temperature: Gas stations and convenience stores aren't allowed to sell carry-out alcohol that is "iced or cooled." If you want to take some beer home that's already been chilled, you need to get it at a restaurant or a liquor store.

In 2017, the state Senate voted against the repeal of cold beer laws. Public support for repeal was high—around 61 percent, according to a Ball State study—but the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers lobbied successfully to retain the restrictions. Worse yet, the legislature made the laws more restrictive: A convenience-store chain had added seating and fast-food service to a few of its stores, so they could obtain restaurant status and sell carry-out beer, so Indiana mandated that 60 percent of all alcohol sales must be for on-site consumption if you want that restaurant classification. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb called that "common sense."

Yet the fight is far from settled. Shortly after he signed the bill, Gov. Holcomb was asked whether Hoosiers could expect a change in cold beer laws.

"We will cross that bridge when we come to it," the governor said.