State-by-state guide for shipping beer DTC
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping for wineries is available in all but a handful of states, giving wineries access to about 97% of Americans age 21 or older. Far fewer states permit breweries to do the same, so less than 17% of Americans have access to DTC beer shipments.
States where breweries can ship directly to consumers
As of July 2022, 10 states and Washington, D.C., permit breweries to ship DTC:
|Alaska||$200 (effective January 1, 2024)||Licenses will not be issued to any manufacturer that produces more than 300,000 barrels in total of brewed beverages annually. Breweries of any size, however, may continue to ship to Alaska consumers until the new law takes effect.|
|Kentucky||$100 annually||No more than 10 cases per consumer per month|
No more than 108 liters per consumer per year
|New Hampshire||$500 annually||No more than 27 gallons of beer in individual containers of not more than one liter per consumer per calendar year|
|North Dakota||$50 annually||No more than 288 fluid ounces of beer per individual per month|
$100 application processing fee
$25 fee to ship beer DTC
$50 product registration fee for each product
|Oregon||No more than 18 liters of beer per consumer per month; limited to breweries in states that allow reciprocal shipping privileges|
|Pennsylvania||$250 annually||No more than 192 fluid ounces per month per resident; no more than 96 fluid ounces of a specific brand per resident per calendar year|
|Vermont||$330 annually||No shipping of products produced by anyone else|
No more than 2 cases of beer per person per month
|No more than one case of beer per person per month|
In some of these states, including Alaska, Kentucky, and New Hampshire, there are dry or damp communities where DTC alcohol shipments are not allowed.
Oregon is a reciprocal state for beer shipping. The Oregon Liquor & Cannabis Commission explains that a direct shipper permittee may be located outside of Oregon, “provided that the out of state permittee also holds a license or permit issued by the state where the business is located that allows for manufacturing or retail off-premises sales of malt beverages.” A footnote to this section adds, “Reciprocal requirement applies. Sending state must allow Oregon licensees to send malt beverages to consumers in sending state.”
This reciprocity law was challenged a few weeks ago by three Washington breweries, claiming the provision is discriminatory and unconstitutional. If the lawsuit is successful, Oregon could open to all breweries, regardless of origin state.
Nevada used to be on the above list, but as of July 1, 2021, breweries can no longer ship directly to consumers in Nevada.
Direct shipping with a twist
A few states allow consumers to purchase beer directly from a manufacturer for shipment into the state under special circumstances. For example, if the order is delivered to a licensed retailer in the state, for subsequent delivery to the consumer, or if the order is placed in person, on-site (e.g., while visiting a brewery in another state).
Delaware residents “may purchase sparkling wine, still wine, and beer that is not readily available to consumers throughout the state” directly from an out-of-state manufacturer or retailer.
However, Delaware law specifies, “Under no circumstance may the wine or beer be shipped directly to the resident. Direct shippers must deliver the wine and beer by common carrier to a Delaware wholesaler, who will in turn deliver the shipment to a holder of a Delaware off-premises retail license. The retail licensee must then deliver the wine or beer to the resident in a manner consistent with this title and as set forth by Commissioner rules. The direct shipper shall pay a handling fee in the amount of $4 dollars per case or partial case of wine and $2 dollars per case or partial case of beer to the wholesaler who receives the shipment on behalf of the Delaware resident. The wholesaler shall then remit to the retail licensee one-half of the total handling fee.”
Montana residents may apply for a $50 Beer Connoisseur’s License if they wish to receive direct beer shipments from an out-of-state brewery.
As a courtesy to customers, beer manufacturers can ship directly to consumers in Rhode Island if the consumer placed the order while on-site at the brewery. However, beer manufacturers cannot sell beer for shipment to Rhode Island residents.
The future of DTC beer shipping
What’s the likelihood that other states will authorize DTC beer shipments in the coming years? It depends. Several states have taken steps in this direction in the past year, with little success.
California lawmakers took a step toward allowing direct beer shipping with SB 1198. The Senate passed the measure on May 24, 2022; it’s currently with the Assembly, which postponed a hearing scheduled for June 29, 2022. A similar measure, SB 517, failed. At the 11th hour, SB 1198 was denied a hearing in the Assembly. While that does not completely kill it, it makes any path toward interstate DTC in California much more difficult this year.
A measure that would allow licensed distributors to apply for a direct shipping license of beer, wine, and spirits was introduced in Delaware on May 5, 2022. SB 285 is awaiting consideration in committee.
Several bills seeking to allow direct shipments of beer were introduced in Hawaii in 2022 (e.g., SB 65, SB 2289), but none made it into law.
Legislation introduced in Mississippi during the 2022 legislative session sought to allow DTC wine shipments but specifically prohibited DTC shipments of beer or “any alcoholic beverage other than wine.” HB 730 died; whether a similar measure will be put forward in 2023 remains to be seen.
“It will likely take at least 15 years for beer to get parity with wine when it comes to DTC,” says Jeff Carroll, general manager of Avalara for Beverage Alcohol. “However, gaining access to the bigger population states of California, Texas, Florida, and New York would significantly change the landscape.”
Interested in making DTC sales in the states where you can? Check out DTC Shipping 101: A survival guide for the beverage alcohol industry
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