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What's stopping the flow of beer in Pennsylvania?

Deanna Garcia
90.5 WESA

The flow of beer to some Pennsylvania watering holes has been slowing down.

Bar and restaurant owners say supply chain issues and driver shortages mean delivery schedules have been cut back, which makes it harder for them to keep customer favorites on tap.

Michelle Ritter owns Willow Street Pub in Coplay, Pa. near Allentown. She says many beer distributors have fewer drivers right now, which she says makes beer deliveries complicated.

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“[At] one of our main beer companies we can only get a delivery once a week. We used to be able to get two deliveries. The other thing is that they’re doing minimums. So for one of the beer companies you have to have a $400 minimum for your order,” said Ritter.

Chuck Moran is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, which represents small pubs like Ritter’s.

Moran says the crisis has been brewing for a while. He says the national truck driver shortage is affecting how state beer distributors operate.

“As a result of supply chain issues caused by the pandemic it’s being amplified now. There will be times when a bar will run out of a certain brand and it won’t be available until that next delivery comes in,” said Moran.

To help, he’s advocating for a change to state rules. Under the law, bar owners may only receive deliveries of beer and are not allowed to transport it themselves.

“They can go to the state store, buy thousands of dollars of liquor, put it in their car and drive it back. But they can’t do that for a six pack of beer,” said Moran.

Ritter says she’s worried about losing customers.

“When customers come in and they want a certain brand and you don’t have it, there’s always a chance that they may not come back to you,” said Ritter.

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association has penned a letter to the State House Liquor Control Committee and the Senate Law and Justice Committee asking for an update to beer regulations.