There’s no two ways about it: For the better part of a century, Pennsylvania’s liquor laws have been among the most frustrating and restrictive in the nation. And if you’re looking for beer, wine, or liquor, it’s not always easy to understand where you need to go.
It’s been that way since the end of Prohibition in 1933, when then-Gov. Gifford Pinchot, a vociferous teetotaler, convened a special session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to “discourage the purchase of alcoholic beverages by making it as inconvenient and expensive as possible,” according to a 1983 Inquirer article.
Pinchot’s administration established the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and state liquor store system that we know today. And since then, we have all been bouncing from state-owned Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores to beer distributors to bottle shops and back, depending on what we were looking for.
» READ MORE: Is it legal to smoke weed at the Shore?
Pennsylvania’s liquor laws have recently loosened , making buying alcohol a little more convenient. In 2016, Gov. Tom Wolf signed Acts 39 and 166 into law, loosening restrictions on beer and wine sales and shipping, and allowing for expanded State Store hours.
But we still can’t buy liquor, wine, and beer to drink at home all in the same place.
So, where can you get alcohol in Pennsylvania (provided you’re 21 or older, of course)? Here is what you need to know about Pennsylvania’s weird liquor laws:
Where can I buy beer in Pennsylvania?
Malt beverages like beer are probably the easiest to get because a number of places can sell them.
Beer distributors, bottle shops, bars, grocery stores, and breweries can all sell beer, hard seltzer, and cider. What’s different, though, is how much they can sell you, which depends on the type of license they have.
Beer distributors have the fewest restrictions. They can sell you kegs and cases, 12-packs — and, since 2016, six-packs, single bottles, and growlers. But it is all for “off-premise consumption,” so you can’t buy your beer at the store and drink it there, too.
Bottle shops, grocery and convenience stores, bars, and other places can get a license to sell up to 192 fluid ounces of beer per transaction, (the equivalent of 12 16-ounce cans). You can buy more, but you’ll have to make a different trip for each transaction. But you can drink it there or take it to go.
» READ MORE: Craft Breweries in Pennsylvania worth a day trip
Licensed breweries can sell you beer to drink there or to go (or products from other Pennsylvania-licensed producers to drink there), according to the Pennsylvania State Police.
You can also have beer shipped or delivered to your home or business. Many breweries offer local delivery or can ship it to addresses in the state — you’ll just have to have someone 21 or older there when it arrives.
Or, you can use a service like GoPuff or Quick Sip Delivery to have beer delivered. Out-of-state beer shipping services, such as Tavour, meanwhile, can send you up to 192 fluid ounces of beer per month.
Where can I buy wine in Pennsylvania?
Wine is also becoming more convenient to buy in Pennsylvania — especially considering it’s not just State Stores that can sell it anymore. You can buy wine at many of the same places you can find beer, provided they have an expanded permit to sell wine.
At bottle shops and grocery stores, you can buy up to three liters of wine per transaction (the equivalent of four 750-milliliter bottles, or one box of wine, if that’s your thing). If you want more, you’ll have to do it across multiple orders (as with beer), buy directly from a local winery (some of which provide local delivery options), or head to a State Store.
Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores also offer shipping to addresses in Pennsylvania, and you can order online — but someone 21 or older has to accept the delivery (or you can order ahead for pickup).
Wineries who are licensed with the PLCB — and there are 1,200 vintners throughout the country on that list — can ship up to 36 standard 9-liter cases of wine to your home for personal use. Options include popular wineries like Sebastiani Vineyards and Francis Ford Coppola Winery in California, Washington state’s Chateau Ste. Michelle, and Oregon’s A to Z Wineworks, as well as many in-state wineries.
» READ MORE: 10 wineries near Philly that are worth a day trip
Otherwise, you can go for local delivery, which has the same quantity limits as bottle shops. In Philly, delivery options include Quick Sip, The Bottle Shop, and Pasqually’s, among others.
Where can I buy liquor in Pennsylvania?
If you’re looking for the harder stuff, your options are a little limited.
Pennsylvania distilleries can sell you liquor for on- or off-premises drinking, ship to Pennsylvania addresses, or offer direct local delivery. Not all Pa. distilleries offer these options, but some that do include Philadelphia Distilling, Art in the Age, New Liberty Distillery, and Bluebird Distilling.
You cannot get liquor delivered to you, except directly from a State Store or a distillery. And out-of-state distilleries and retailers can’t ship directly to your door.
If you’re looking for a cocktail to go from your favorite watering hole, that’s where you’re out of luck. While to-go cocktails were legal during the pandemic, they’re banned again. In June, legislators failed to advance a bill that would have made legal to-go cocktails permanent. This could change, though, when the state General Assembly reconvenes in the fall.