If you live in Pennsylvania, contact your state legislators and get them to fix the circle-jerk that is the PLCB. If you live in a state that requires brand registration, beware, because this could happen to you, too.
This past Thursday the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement and the PLCB carried out three simultaneous raids on Memphis Taproom, Resurrection Ale House, and Local 44. The raids were the result of a complaint that the three bars were selling beers that are not registered with the State. (No one has, at this point, stepped forward to take credit for lodging this complaint; I'm assuming that they're hiding behind "Anonymous.") Each bar was visited by five armed officers -- again, simultaneously, presumably so no one would call the other bars so they could somehow hide cases or kegs -- who proceeded to check beers against the list of registered brands, and confiscated ones they couldn't find on the list. They evidently didn't look too hard: Brendan Hartranft, owner of Memphis, told me yesterday that they seized bottles of Duvel, a beer that's been imported into the US for over 30 years, and is clearly on the list.
So what's this tell us? First, that the PLCB is incompetent.
Second, that the PLCB has no sense of proportion.
Third, the idea that someone -- oh, let's say it: that some rival bar or restaurant owner, or maybe a brewer with their nose out of joint [...] would deliberately rat out another small beer business leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.
Fourth: this is clearly a violation of PA liquor law. [...] Well... Why? Why is there a law? [The tax had been paid on the beers in question, just not the registration fees. -RDS]
So let's say it. Brand registration is bullshit.
Lew Bryson rants much more effectively than I do, and he goes into a lot more detail at his Why The PLCB Should Be Abolished blog. Read it, be outraged, and learn.