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In early March, groups of state Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement officers raided three Philadelphia bars after receiving a complaint that the bars were selling beer that had not been registered for sale in Pennsylvania.
As it turned out, much of the beer that was confiscated in the raids was, in fact, legal, but it did not match the brand names listed on the state’s database. And while the officials from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board struggled to clarify the list, outrage over the raids by armed agents grew to the point that the within a week, members of the state House Liquor Control Committee and the state Senate Law and Justice Committee, which oversees liquor law, had scheduled a joint hearing on the raids.
That hearing is on Tuesday in Harrisburg, and it has the potential to be more than a discussion on the raids themselves.
“I think we’re at a point where a number of things could come to a head very soon,” said Lew Bryson, a beer writer based in suburban Philadelphia and a critic of the state’s decades-old liquor laws. “The more I talk to people about the hearing, the more I think this may turn into something broader.”