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Sunday sales not hurting craft brewery taprooms
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Sunday sales not hurting craft brewery taprooms

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For nearly a decade, Hoosiers who didn't live near the border had only one option if they wanted to buy beer and bring it home on a Sunday.

Since 2010, craft breweries were the only places in Indiana allowed to sell beer on Sundays, so long as it was sold at the brewery where it was made. That monopoly ended on March 4, when Sunday alcohol sales were legalized at any retailer for the first time in the state's more than 200-year history.

Northwest Indiana craft breweries said they haven't seen much of a drop-off in takeout Sunday sales, and expect a boost to their off-site retail beer sales. Steve Carter, one of the owners of Devil's Trumpet in Hobart, said most of the craft beer drinkers who bought to-go beer on Sundays weren't looking to skirt the state's 19th century blue laws, and were more fans of their breweries beers.

Local craft breweries that bottle and distribute their beer likely will see at least a slight increase in sales now that their beer is available for another day, especially if it's at grocery stores during busy weekend shopping hours, Carter said.

"We hope to see an incremental increase," he said.

Sunday sales have not hurt taproom beer sales at New Oberpfalz in Griffith, but it has helped drive up off-site sales of its six packs and 22-ounce bombers.

"Our Sunday business has been up for a number of reasons. What we've witnessed is an increase in our distributed beer sales because some of our accounts are choosing to open on Sundays," owner Dan Lehnerer said. "The net effect of allowing Sunday packaged alcohol sales, at least from my perspective, will be more sales tax and excise tax revenue staying in Indiana from the indeterminable number of Indiana residents who may have been tempted to make the run to Illinois on Sundays. So the money stays in the state to benefit the residents, which is a very good thing."

Robyn Pokropinski, who owns Pokro Brewing Company in Griffith with her husband Joe, said the impact was minimal thus far.

"We've noticed a slight decrease in 'to go' beer sales on Sundays since the law was changed to allow liquor stores to sell on Sundays," she said. "However, it has not affected our overall Sunday sales."

18th Street Brewery's Joey Potts said liquor stores, convenience stores and supermarkets can't offer fresh draft beer in growlers like craft breweries.

"Liquor stores can't sell fresh pints of beer whereas brewpubs can," Potts said. "Our brew pubs are still the best option for our package beers because we know how to take care of our beers and can keep our beer cold from the time its canned and kegged. Most liquor stores don't have that options and consumers know that the freshest beers will always come from the source were its made."

Though some people pop in Sundays just to refill growlers of craft beer, many take it home after a pint or dinner and drinkers, St. John Malt Brothers' Renee Rodimel said.

"Some people intend to consume it that day," she said. "But it's fresh draft beer that's good for at least a month if it's left unopened."

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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