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Indiana Convenience Stores Sue For Right To Sell Cold Beer

beer in a convenience store

Photo: Isriya Paireepairit (flickr)

Beck's beer lines the shelves of a convenience store.

Indiana convenience stores are filing a lawsuit for the right to sell cold beer in Indiana.

Under current law, convenience, grocery and pharmacy stores are only allowed to sell beer warm, while their competitors in the carryout market are allowed to sell beer cold.

The law originated 50 years ago when the Indiana Alcoholic Beverage Commission decided only liquor stores could sell chilled beer. The General Assembly later codified that decision.

Members of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association point out they can sell chilled wine but can only sell beer warm.

David Bridgers is the vice president of Thorntons, which has 26 convenience stores in the state. He says the unfair practice is costing the state money.

“Thorntons has not built a convenience store in Indiana since 2006 for the sole reason of its antiquated alcohol laws,” Bridgers says.

The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association says the law is anti-competitive, because it allows liquor stores to sell chilled beer at higher prices.

But Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers President John Livengood says the fact grocery and convenience stores can sell different types of liquor provides plenty of competition.

“I’ve gone into gas stations in Kentucky to verify that and I find that their cold beer prices are about the same as they are in package stores in Indiana,” he says.

Indiana is the only state that regulates beer sales based on temperature.

The Convenience Stores Association filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.

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