Has Saucony Creek Brewing Company in Kutztown been selling their beer illegally for 2014? It appears so, as we confirmed with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. A member of the PLCB’s Customer Relations department wrote to us that “After reviewing the information on Saucony Creek Brewing Company with our Licensing Bureau, we find the company to have a valid Brewery (G) license but they have not renewed their beer brand registration for 2014.”
That’s a pretty big ‘oops’. According to the Pennsylvania law, specifically Section 445(A) of the liquor code, “each brand of malt or brewed beverages that a manufacturer or franchisee offers, sells, or delivers within this Commonwealth shall be first registered with the Board by filing the proper forms with Malt Beverage Compliance.” This registration, which needs to be done for each different beer the brewery puts out, must be completed yearly. This, obviously, was not done for 2014 for Saucony Creek per the LCB’s response.
Prior to 2011, this could have resulted in all Saucony Creek beer being confiscated by authorities, which is exactly what happened to multiple bars in the Philadelphia region after they were found to have several beers not registered with the PLCB. A similar episode occurred with The Farmhouse restaurant in Emmaus back in 1994, which led to hundreds of dollars worth of beer being confiscated that subsequently went missing from a police warehouse according to the restaurant’s owner.
Luckily the Pennsylvania legislators changed those laws after the Philly raids, but they still pose a big problem for breweries that are sending out unregistered beers. Per the PA Liquor Code Section 4-471, violations to the act can lead to fines and/or suspension of their liquor license. Additionally, according to a PLCB list of unlawful activities, any beer that is unregistered with the state, meaning all of Saucony Creek’s supply, cannot be sold until it’s registered. Instead of being confiscated by the State Police, the beer is now allowed to be kept in restaurants and bars but is unable to be sold by them. They can either hang on to the beer and wait for it to be registered, or they are allowed to ship the illegal brew back to the brewery to be fully reimbursed.
Representatives from Saucony Creek did not respond to a request to comment on the article. We’ve reached out to the PLCB’s Malt Beverage Compliance Officer who said our inquiry was the first he’d heard of the violation. We also reached out to the Allentown bureau of the State Police Liquor Control Enforcement and the PLCB’s External Affairs office for comment and will report back with any new information.