Yesterday on Don Russell’s Beer Radar, he had the basic information on a second raid by the PLCB and Pennsylvania State Troopers. As promised, a fuller account was published today, with additional reporting by Bob Warner, in the Philadelphia Daily News. Here’s the account, entitled In Another Raid, State Police Hit Beer Distributor, Origlio’s, in Far Northeast.
The state continues to confiscate Duvel, Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Red Ale and even Hacker-Pschorr, despite all three brands having been registered and sold for many years. Russian River Brewing’ Supplication was also one of the beers confiscated, but in that case Vinnie Cilurzo admitted he’d simply forgotten the paperwork for the very small number of cases shipped to Pennsylvania. As reported by Russell, Cilurzo stated. “We are a small mom-and-pop brewery and every once in a while something slips through the cracks.”
What continues to be troubling is that this is essentially just paperwork errors and miscommunication and it’s being treated like the crime of the century. Did they really need to go in armed, like storm troopers? Were they expecting trouble or that gunfire might be necessary? It’s not like they were raiding a bootlegger’s den and could expect Tommy guns to be carried by everyone inside the distributorship. It seems absurd to think there might be some justification for that level of power display.
As another remarked. “‘It’s just a clerical problem, but they’re treating this stuff like contraband,’ said one distributor who asked not to be identified.” See what we’ve created? Here’s a legitimate businessman who’s afraid to be identified while criticizing the PLCB and the state police for fear of retaliation, despite the fact that as a citizen he has every right to do so. When we aren’t comfortable exercising basic rights like that because we believe we’ll be targeted by the people we’re criticizing (who, let’s not forget, are there to serve the people), that, to me, is a very scary development indeed. Now that’s a chilling effect. This is just going from bad to worse.
UPDATE: Thanks to James Costa for pointing this out. Today, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s food writer, Rick Nichols, gives us his take on the PLCB raids in Beer Raid Backfires on Liquor Agents.
Scary indeed. And infuriating.. but I am cheered a little by the “V for Vendetta” icon above. Cheers. 🙂
like “storm troopers”?
Well, that’s hyperbole, of course. But in the sense that 4 or 5 armed state troopers for every bar or beer distributor just to check paperwork was what the PLCB employed, yeah I think that rises to the level of storm troopers, or at the very least a grossly unnecessary show of force.
Matt Pushinsky says
If this is publicized enough is it possible for there to be some backlash in PA legislature? This may bring to the public eye just how archaic and antiquated the PA liquor laws are.
Backlash! Backlash! Backlash! Backlash! Backlash!
Mario (Brewed For Thought) says
Maybe they just watched the Untouchables and got all worked up.
You wanna know how to get the beer geeks? They sell a Duvel, you serve a warrant. They sspeak out in the press, you send one of 5 armed troopers. *That’s* the *Philadelphia* way!
Tom from Raleigh says
Here in NC there was some furor over the fact that our Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) organization was purchasing new assault rifles to replace the ones they’d purchased a few years before. The gist was less of a need for the firepower and more about the fact that since they produced revenue through taxing alcohol, siphoning off some to fund the guns could be funded without getting approval outside the agency.
They went right for the rare, Russian River good stuff. These troopers must have had a hell of a party back at HQ.
Of course it’s the crime of the century! It’s about money for the government! They don’t care about serious crime in the ghettos because there’s no financial benefit. It’s a crime of the way we let our government run today, that the only thing they care about is whether or not they get paid. I thought our government was supposed to serve us, but right now it’s just using us to provide revenue for them.