The Return of Beer Mug Clubs???
Amid the war of words between grocery/convenience stores, distributors, and breweries over pending liquor code legislation, another bill has flown under the radar and could soon become law. Just yesterday, the Pa House of Representatives passed HB #2069, which would allow a liquor licensee to “offer discounts of food or malt or brewed beverages and disproportionate serving amounts that act as a discount to patrons who are part of a bona fide club or group program offered by the licensee to promote its business….” In other words, the Mug Club may soon return! If you recall, back in 2012, Iron Hill Brewery had to take another look at its Mug Club after receiving an unfavorable Advisory Opinion from the Liquor Control Board with respect to the member benefits of the Mug Club. Iron Hill Advisory Opinion #1, Iron Hill Advisory Opinion #2, Lancaster Brewing Co. Advisory Opinion Many other Mug Clubs were also forced to either amend their programs or end them altogether. Essentially, the LCB was concerned with Mug Clubs inducing people to buy more alcohol and offering different prices for beer (or differences in the amount of beer) for members and non-members. This was not the LCB’s most popular decision. To the Mug Clubs and their members, this was yet another example of the LCB seemingly overstepping its bounds and not changing with the times. In any event, this may all soon change and Mug Clubs can go back to their original configurations. HB #2069 is not law yet, it still needs to be passed in the Senate and signed by the Governor, but its overwhelming support in the House suggests that this may actually go through. No guarantees though with this Legislature and all of the other proposed changes to the Liquor Code that are currently being debated. We will keep on eye on what transpires.