02 June 2008

In Defense of the Three-Tier System

The three-tier liquor distribution system mandated by most states in the Mid-Atlantic region is a favorite "whipping boy" of pseudo-libertarian-minded beer/wine fans who grouse that "the system" prevents the completely open market of direct shipments of beer/wine to the consumer, etc.

Brewery owner and fellow blogger Hugh Sisson, who's been in this business for 20 years or so, chimes in with his thoughts at his blog (as with others, linked at the list at the right). Having just come from a state where beer is seemingly everywhere--drive-through liquor stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, big-box super stores, you name it--I can see his points. It always seems much harder to find good local/craft beer in such states than in this market.

True story: I was told a certain liquor store in central Maryland, which I formerly would have regarded as second-rate at best, had changed hands, and might have a slightly better selection, and "would you check it out and see if it's worth our trouble?"

I found a Normandy cider. At a good price. That sure satisfied the cider fan who had asked me to check out the new selection.

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