Controversies

Pennsylvania’s ‘silly’ 2 six-pack rule keeps beer sales confusing

More than a million tourists visit Gettysburg each year, and inevitably, some end up at Tommy’s Pizza, where they can get a pie for dinner and some takeout beer for later.

Sometimes, out-of-town customers unfamiliar with Pennsylvania’s wacky alcohol restrictions will plop four six-packs on the counter, only for Tommy’s Pizza staff to break the news that they can buy only up to two six-packs at a time.

“They kind of look at you like you have four eyes. And we have to say, ‘Well, Pennsylvania has some strange alcohol laws,’” said Wade Leedy, general manager of Tommy’s Pizza.

One of the oddest restrictions among the state’s Prohibition-era rules is the law that says customers can buy only up to 192 ounces of takeout beer at a time from taverns, restaurants and bottle shops. That essentially limits purchases to two six-packs or a 12-pack. Anybody who wants a case has to buy that from a distributor, which can sell kegs, 24-packs and 30-packs, but not six-packs.

The statute seems even goofier considering customers can technically buy as many six-packs as they want from bottle shops and bars. They just have to take the first two outside and return for two more.

Robbie Williams, a McSherrystown resident who buys most of his takeout beer from Tommy’s Pizza, said he’s run into the restriction on occasion. The “silly” rule is reminiscent of blue laws that prohibit Sunday car sales, he said.

“You have to go back out to your car and come back in, which is kind of ridiculous because it’s really not regulating anything,” Williams said. “You can buy the entire store if you wanted, as long as you’re willing to go back out to your car and come back in.”

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