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A smaller package, but a huge change

Cases and 12-packs sit together on the shelves at Beer Express in Robinson.

Cases and 12-packs sit together on the shelves at Beer Express in Robinson.

It sort of came out of the blue a year ago. First, there was word that the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board might issue an opinion that would change the legal definition of a package — as it pertains to the sales of beer — and that the change would allow distributors to sell 12-packs, for the first time ever in the state.

The following day, it was official, and the ruling set off a scramble on the part of distributors that wanted to take advantage of the newfound flexibility … and on the part of breweries that wanted to get the smaller packages into the hands of consumers.

The change came about largely because of an effort here, a push by Pistella Beer Distributors, Save-Mor Beer, Rivertowne Brewing, and the Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania. And the smaller packages have made a difference here as well, from the distributors that sell to the distributors — think the Vecenie Distributing warehouse in Millvale — and the distributors we visit when we want to take home some beer — think Beer Express in Robinson.

Tony Knipling, who manages a long list of craft beer brands for Vecenie, says that in the last year, he’s seen breweries step up to make new packages available to customers in Pennsylvania, even occasionally making special arrangements for mixed 12-packs that other states don’t get to enjoy.

Ryan Federbusch, the owner of Beer Express, has noticed the same thing from the breweries he carries. But he also sees the advantage to the smaller packages from the standpoint of the consumer: more variety, less expense … and a fewer stray bottles or cans from cases we grew tired of filling the beer fridge.

What they say is true: good things come in small(er) packages.

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