Markets Seek Another Shot at Beer & Wine

When the Massachusetts Food Association, representing more than 600 stores in the state, asked voters in 2006 to allow wine to be sold in food stores, it triggered one of the most expensive ballot-question campaigns in state history, with opposing sides combined spending more than $11.5 million.

Last week, the Food Association took another shot at it by filing two ballot questions with state Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office, one that would allow food stores to sell wine and a second to allow grocery stores and supermarkets to sell beer and wine, under local control, according to the Boston Globe.

The news of a possible second round in the wine-and-beer retail battle has sparked strong reaction from local merchants, wholesale liquor distributors, and residents.

Massachusetts, supermarkets need permission from their municipal government to sell beer and wine, and are not allowed to hold more than three permits in the state, limiting the number of chain grocery stores able to sell alcohol.

These restrictions create a real drawback for innovative breweries, said Joe Slesar, owner of Boston Beer Works, a restaurant and brewery with five sites from metro Boston to locations on the North and South shores, and Hingham Beer Works.

“I think change would be a positive thing,” said Slesar. Boston Beer Works distributes its beer to a couple of hundred package stores in Massachusetts.

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