$7,200 of "Illegal" Beer Confiscated By State Troopers in Philly

I’ve jokingly talked about Pennsylvania having a "Prohibition hangover" before but the latest news out of Philly is downright ridiculous. More than a dozen armed State Troopers raided three popular Philadelphia bars known for their wide beer selections last week. Police confiscated hundreds of bottles of expensive lagers and ales and apparently they’re still in their custody, being held at an undisclosed location.

Why you ask? Well basically Pennsylvania needs to get a grip.

Even though the bar owners legally purchased the beer from licensed Pennsylvania distributors and paid taxes on them, the police claim that no one had registered the precise names of the beers with the state Liquor Control Board. According to the authorities, brewers or their importers are required to pay a $75 registration fee for each product they sell in Pennsylvania.

The raids were conducted after a complaint from someone the State Police refuse to identify. Leigh Maida and her husband Brendan Hartranft operate all three of the bars targeted. After checking their inventory against the state’s official list of registered beers (which contains more than 2,800 brands) the officers seized four kegs and 317 bottles. Police calculations indicate that they now possess about 60.9 gallons of beer with an estimated value of $7,200.

Maida claims that more than half of the beer taken was actually properly registered but the cops couldn’t find it on their lists because of "clerical errors" and "blatant ineptitude" between the police and Liquor Control Board (with whom he officers were deliberating with via phone.)

Case in point; Monk’s Café Sour Flemish Red Ale. The beer has been sold across PA at dozens of restaurants and distributors for more than seven years. The brand appears on the state’s online list as "Monk’s Café Ale" and because the names did’’t match up, troopers seized 20 bottles and three kegs of the "illegal" ale from the three bars.

Police also took Duvel Belgian Golden Ale because it only appears on the list as "Duvel Beer". Wow.

According to the Philadelphia Daily News State Police Sgt. William N. La Torre said that the beer would be kept in a secured location, as evidence, until the case is resolved, probably in six to eight months.

Clearly the State Police officers aren’t up on their beer knowledge but many of those beers will be sour before they’re released. What a shame.

To say that this is ludicrous would be an understatement. Whether or not someone had it out for these people, the fact that these laws are in place and the Liquor Board didn’t even conduct a proper investigation is absurd. Poor Pennsylvania needs reform now more than ever. Hang in there guys, one day you’ll be able to enjoy beer like the rest of us.



  • Hannah March 9, 2010 @ 8:29am

    This Philly beer raid is positively ridiculous. PA needs to get it together. Great post, Liz. Good luck to the bar owners, too.

  • M March 9, 2010 @ 11:42am

    PA does need to grow up with selling of beer. When you want to buy beer…they don’t want you to get a little drunk…they want you to get so wasted you don’t remember your own name. You can’t just buy a 6 pack…you can only buy beer by the case. so you can’t just go pick up a six pack b/c you want to try a beer (for under $10 lets say…) PA will only let you buy a case of it for, lets say $35. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT STATE?!?!?!?! I’m going to go and buy a case of beer and get completely inebriated! Come looking for me if you don’t hear from me in a day or two….

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