Judge rules no cold beer sales in grocery, convenience stores

INDIANAPOLIS - An attempt to allow grocery stores and convenience stores to sell cold beer in Indiana has fallen flat.

A federal judge in Indianapolis has thrown out a lawsuit which seeks the sale of cold beer by all retail outlets that hold a beer dealer permit.

Chief Judge Richard Young handed down the 34-page order late Monday afternoon. In it, he upholds the current state law.

Currently, only package liquor stores can sell "chilled" beer, other stores must sell it at room temperature.

The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association filed the lawsuit in May 2013 to challenge the law that bars the sale of cold beer by convenience and grocery stores. The group claimed Indiana's alcohol law violates the equal protection of the U.S. Constitution by favoring one class of retailer of another.

Monday's ruling said allowing convenience and grocery stores to sell cold beer would mean more alcohol sales in Indiana, making it harder for Indiana State Excise Police to enforce state liquor laws.

The ruling also rejected claims by the convenience store group that the law is "arcane," saying the legislature has drawn a line on what it will allow and has made a case for it, so it is not for the judge to act as a super-legislature and overturn it.

"Our members and Hoosiers are disappointed that the court did not rule to end an irrational, discriminatory and outdated law," said IPCA Executive Director Scot Imus. "There is wide-support to modernize Indiana’s alcohol laws, and we will continue to fight for fairness in the marketplace."

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