Necessity is the mother of invention, and sometimes that necessity is a state law opposed by 70 percent of residents.
Indiana convenience stores are rolling out "Chill Indiana glacier bags," or reusable plastic bags people can put beer into and then fill with ice from the fountain machine in order to cool the beer in about 15 minutes, keeping it cold for hours if not consumed or transferred to a refrigerator by then.
More than 160 retailers across the state are now selling the bags, which are made in California and have a suggested retail price of $6.99. No Region convenience stores are yet listed as carrying the beer-chilling bags, but promoters encourage customers to ask stores to stock the product.
“If customers want to buy cold beverages, such as water or soda, the bags will keep that beverage cold," said Scot Imus, executive director of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores Association. "Conversely, if the customer buys a product that stores are forced to sell warm, such as beer, the product will be cold by the time that customer reaches their destination.”
It's the latest volley in the ongoing conflict in the statehouse between the liquor store lobby and the convenience store lobby over cold beer sales, which are only allowed at liquor stores under current state law.
Liquor store operators long have argued it should only be allowed in their stores because they have to pay more for licenses and their clerks get more training in how to prevent sales to underage minors. Convenience stores have contended that consumers should be allowed more choice, and that the policy gives liquor stores an unfair competitive advantage over them and grocery stores.
“This should not be viewed as a solution to our cold beer fight, as that battle continues," Imus said. "There remains no public policy reason to allow liquor stores to sell cold beer but deny that right to grocery and convenience stores. This innovative approach does not run afoul of the cold beer prohibition because the customer will be chilling the beer after the point of purchase."
For more information or to see which stores currently carry the Chill Indiana bags, visit chillindiana.com.