Indiana Fighting Store Owner Over Cold Beer

Convenience stores in state can only sell warm beer
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 21, 2017 12:18 AM CDT
Indiana GOP Works to Close Cold Beer Loophole
A worker makes a burrito at Ricker's in front of the beer coolers in a convenience store in Sheridan, Ind., on Wednesday.   (Michael Conroy)

GOP leaders in the Indiana Statehouse have reached agreement on a measure targeting a convenience store owner who used a legal loophole to circumvent the state's stringent law governing who can sell cold beer. A copy of the proposed legislation obtained by the AP sets a bar so high that Jay Ricker, who started selling carryout cold beer last month at two of his Ricker's gas stations, says he'll likely have to stop sales in April 2018. The measure sets stringent alcohol sales rules for any establishment like Ricker's that obtained a permit after November 2016. Under the legislation, at least 60% of their alcohol sales must be for on-site drinking in order to get a permit renewed, a threshold Ricker says will be impossible to meet.

But the measure, which still must be voted on by the House and Senate, also includes a long list of exemptions, including golf courses, marinas, hotels, and resorts. Decades-old rules, closely guarded by officials who receive generous donations from the liquor store lobby, strictly manage who can sell "iced or cooled" beer for carryout. It's a right granted to package liquor stores and restaurants, but denied to gas stations and convenience stores, which can still sell warm beer and cold wine. Ricker worked around it by installing seating and serving burritos, landing a restaurant classification—and the right to sell cold beer. "We were targeted," he says. "You've got all these exemptions to the rules—except us." (More Indiana stories.)

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