Group sues over Indiana alcohol sales


Indiana convenience stores are suing the state for the right to sell cold beer.

Under current law, convenience, grocery and pharmacy stores are only allowed to sell beer warm, while carryout stores can sell beer cold.

A complaint in the US District Court filed by the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (IPCA), a statewide trade association, challenges that law.

Indiana is the only state in the country that regulates beer sales based on temperature. The current law doesn't apply to wine products, thus allowing convenience stores to sell these products cold.

Alcohol sales have long been a point of contention in Indiana, which has some of the strictest laws in the nation.

Sunday sales

The move comes after yet another bill proposing Sunday carryout sales of alcohol in Indiana died in the Statehouse. Indiana House Public Policy Committee chairman Bill Davis (R-Portland) denied a vote on House Bill 1146 during this year's legislative session, which would have allowed Sunday carryout sales of alcohol in convenience, grocery, drug and liquor stores.

A proposal in the 2012 session to allow grocery stores and convenience stores to sell cold beer as long as that beer is made in Indiana also died.

The debate has been raging in Indiana for decades. Liquor store owners have fought against Sunday sales, arguing that they can't compete against big box retailers. Breweries and wineries are allowed to sell alcohol from their premises on Sundays.

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.