Battle brewing over cold beer sales in Indiana


INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - There's a battle brewing over beer at the Indiana Statehouse.

A local company found a loophole in the state's liquor license law. Ricker's has been serving cold beer at some of their gas stations that have a restaurant inside.

Now, people are urging lawmakers to make changes to the law.

What do lawmakers do when someone follows the law and violates it at the same time?

Some say Ricker's violated the spirit of the law, others say this is another case of government not moving at the speed of business.

You can call it unintended consequences, or an instance of business genius, but lawmakers find themselves in a tough position when it comes to selling alcohol in a restaurant at two Ricker's gas stations in Columbus and Sheridan.

"We are looking at a gas station that dropped 25 seats in their facility, put in a food service counter and got a three-way liquor license as a restaurant. That allows them to sell beer, wine, liquor by the drink at the gas station," Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) announced in committee Wednesday.

"You really have got to get into the food business in a big way or eventually you will probably not be in business," Jay Ricker contended in his testimony before the Senate Public Policy Committee.

So Ricker's did the research and followed the requirements under state law - but did they follow the intent of the law?

Opponents say no.

"That mistake was made by a regulatory agency that decided to be a policy making body. Because when a permit was granted for gas stations to sell cold beer for carry out for the first time, that was a major policy shift," Matt Bell from Big Red Liquors argued.

"We rightfully got those two licenses. I don't think it's right after we put extra investment into those stores to take those licenses back from us," Jay Ricker countered.

The hope at this point is to get it to a summer study committee but that would mean Ricker's would keep those licenses at their two stores.