Philadelphia cops bust taverns for ‘illegal’ beer
More than a dozen armed State Police officers conducted simultaneous raids last week on three popular Philadelphia bars known for their wide beer selections. The cops confiscated hundreds of bottles of craft beers, now in State Police custody at an undisclosed location.
The alleged offense: Although the bar owners had bought the beer legally from licensed Pennsylvania distributors and had paid all the necessary taxes, the police claimed that nobody had registered the precise names of the beers with the state Liquor Control Board – a process that requires the brewers or their importers to pay a $75 registration fee for each product they want to sell in Pennsylvania.
Based on a complaint from someone the State Police refuse to identify, three teams of officers converged last Thursday on three bars. Checking their inventories against the state’s official list of more than 2,800 brands, the cops seized four kegs and 317 bottles.
According to some sources, more than half the beer removed by the State Police was properly registered – but the cops couldn’t find it on their lists because of “clerical errors” or “blatant ineptitude” between the police and the Liquor Control Board, with whom the officers were conferring by telephone.
One example given was Duvel, an import from Belgium that is widely advertised and available in at least 200 bars throughout the city and suburbs. The beer appears on the PLCB list as “Duvel Beer,” while its label reads “Duvel Belgian Golden Ale.”
State Police Sgt. William N. La Torre, commanding officer of the Philadelphia office of the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, said that he was not aware of any beers that had been mistakenly confiscated.