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Philadelphia Bars Raided Because Of Typos, Dated Laws

Philadelphia, Travel News — By David Chalk on March 23, 2010 at 10:11 am
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I would imagine there’s not a whole lot a high-ranking Republican state representative and a Philadelphia Daily News beer reporter would agree on.  And yet, they both believe Pennsylvania state police were clearly in the wrong when they conducted a series of raids earlier this month in Philadelphia.

Cops confiscated over $7,000 worth of beer from three fancy beer bars across Philadelphia, from Kensington to West Philadelphia to downtown.  The reason? To be sold in Pennsylvania, every variety of beer must be registered with the state, and the manufacturers must pay an annual $75 fee.  Police were acting on an anonymous “citizen” tip about the unregistered beers.

Upon further review though, nearly a third of the confiscated beers have been found to have actually been registered.  Spelling errors and abbreviations are mostly to blame.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports that “more than a dozen armed State Police officers” conducted the raids. The highest-ranking Republican on the Pennsylvania House Liquor Control Committee, state Rep. John Taylor, called it “a ridiculous use of enforcement manpower.”

Daily News beer reporter Joe Sixpack (I’m guessing that’s a pseudonym) heartily agreed:

The cops were operating with a 1987 mindset (or perhaps it was 1927) when more than a dozen of them, carrying loaded weapons, conducted a simultaneous raid aimed at what is, at worst, a clerical error.

The three bars are all owned by the same couple, who are understandably pretty peeved.  The law also states that it’s the bar owners’ responsibility to prove their beer’s innocence, beer that they bought legally from distributors strictly regulated by the state.

It seems pretty ridiculous, but will there be far-reaching effects on Philadelphia’s beer-drinking residents and visitors?  Police say that there are typically less than 10 complaints about unregistered beer per year in the entire state, so to really feel like you’re in a Prohibition-era speakeasy you’ll probably have to supply a lot of imagination (or alcohol).

[Image: Library of Congress]

Tags: beer, beer raids, liquor laws, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, prohibition

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