Breweries reaping benefits of current Indiana alcohol laws

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The battle over the sale of liquor in Indiana, regardless of the day of the week, has been raging for decades.

Indiana was the first state to set a blood alcohol content for drunk driving. Woman were not allowed to tend bar until 1967. In 1969, women in Indiana were allowed to sit at a bar but not stand.

So it comes as no surprise to many buying beer from a Fountain Square brewery this Sunday that Indiana is the last state to allow some type of carry-out liquor sales on Sundays. As of now, the only place to buy carry-out beer in the state of Indiana on a Sunday is at a brewery.

Three years ago the law changed so that people like Gary Mills of Indianapolis can buy beer on Sunday and take it home, as long as the beer that was brewed, bottled or, in Mills' case this particular Sunday, put in a keg in the same building.

Mills is like a lot of people who grew up in Indiana. Even though it's legal to buy carry-out beer on Sunday in limited amounts, it still seems odd.

"You know, we were joking as we came here," Mills said, "Well, we are kinda like heathens because we didn't go to church and we are gonna go have a beer. It just seems antiquated in the terms of the laws."

Indiana is the only state that does not allow liquor stores, grocery stores, convenience stores or any other stores that sell beer, wine and liquor Monday through Saturday to also sell it on Sunday.

The arguments for and against Sunday carry-out sales have been brewing for decades. And it comes down to one simple issue - competition. Liquor store owners feel they cannot compete against big box retailers.

Liquor store owners have waged a robust fight against competition since prohibition ended. In 1954, drugstores were allowed to sell liquor. In 1984, the owners of Kocolene Convenience stores sued to sell beer. Now grocery stores and drug stores, gas stations and convenience stores all sell beer, wine and or liquor, but not cold beer. That is exclusive territory of package liquor stores.

Let's go back to Gary Mills, who at one time worked and managed liquor stores and still keeps tabs with many of his friends in the industry.

It is his belief Sunday carry-out sales will, in the long run, be a wash for everyone.

"It is interesting, the misconceptions," Mills said. "Costco is the number one wine retailer in the country," according to Mills, who believes selling alcohol on Sunday "is going to impact anybody to the point they are going to be closing liquor stores."

Liquor store owners fear that unrestricted Sunday sales will result in loss of stores. They say when Colorado opened up sales, almost ten percent of the package stores closed.