Cold Beer Controversy as Case Heads to Federal Court

By Kellie Bartoli

Published 02/20 2014 05:00PM

Updated 02/20 2014 07:13PM

This weather has many of us counting down the days until summer - and a nice, warm beer?

That's the only way Indiana gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies can sell it. But there are new developments that could change the decades-old law.

A trial started in federal court on Thursday. It's challenging the state's ban on selling cold beer outside of liquor stores.

Many people are hoping it doesn't fizz out.
If you want to crack open a cold one... Indiana law doesn't exactly make it easy.
"I mean, they sell it everywhere else..."

Indiana is the only state in the country that regulates the temperature of beer sales.

Bars, restaurants and liquor stores can sell carryout cold beer, but for gas stations, that's illegal -- even though wine and hard cider can be sold cold.

 "It does seem rather unusual that some vendors can sell it cold while others can't. I don't quite understand the logic there," said Curtis Bodine, owner of the Sunoco in Pimento. "There's no doubt that we would sell more beer if we were allowed to sell it cold."

Hoosiers face some of the strictest alcohol laws in the U.S., and many say it's time to catch up with the rest of the country.
"When we get people from out of state, they do come in and ask us where our cold beer is," said Bodine.  "We explain the law to them and we get a lot of strange looks and laughs. Everyone thinks it's rather bizarre."

One customer adds: "Yeah I think it needs updated!"

Supporters of the ban say loosening the law could lead to more underage drinking and drunken driving.

These customers don't agree, and they're  heated up about the cold beer law.

"I work on the road and pretty much every other state sells cold beer. And I would love for Indiana to sell cold beer," said one customer. " I mean, beer's beer. Whether it's hot or cold. That's it."

Another agrees:  "I don't see why they can't sell it cold. What's the difference if it's a gas station or a liquor store?  If you buy it hot you're gonna chill it anyway, what's the difference if you buy it hot or cold? To me you ought to be able to buy it cold."

The plaintiffs in the case are citing a 2012 federal ruling that a similar law in Kentucky violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The trial is expected to wrap up Friday.

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