Heated debate over cold beer sales, Ricker’s starts selling at two locations

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It’s a "brewhaha" over beer temperature.

In Indiana, the law is you can buy warm beer but not cold beer at a gas station.  But Indiana-based chain Ricker’s found a way to serve and sell cold ones to customers.

“Nobody likes warm beer,” said Jay Ricker, chairman of Ricker’s.

At nearly 20 Ricker’s locations, there’s a Tex-Mex made-to-order restaurant inside the convenience store. Ricker wanted to be able to offer his customers a burrito and a cold beer. Two of the Ricker’s with an in-store restaurant applied for a liquor license and the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission approved it.

“I don’t feel like we bent the rules at all, we followed the rules and then some,” said Ricker.

Some lawmakers call the approval a loophole and intend to close it.

“The public policy of this state is that we don’t sell cold beer and spirits at the same place that you buy gas and that’s what we have right now,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma.

There are two Ricker’s ready to serve cold beer, one in Columbus and one in Sheridan.  A customer is allowed to order a cold beer and drink it in the restaurant area or they can buy cold beer or liquor to go.

“Well, it’s about time I can buy something cold, it was a crazy rule,” said Ricker.

Lawmakers are already re-working the rule and planning to introduce an amendment to the existing bill next week.

“All the things that we’ve never allowed convenience stores to do, in just stunning fashion, yes, we are going to make sure that comes to an end right now,” Senate President Pro Tem David Long.

Ricker’s employees aren’t allowed to pass a beer to the customer over the counter.  Employees are required to walk around and hand deliver it to the paying customer.

“We have everyone who is behind the counter, who is in our restaurant has a server’s license, that’s not the requirement, but we felt we needed to go the extra mile,” explains Ricker.

The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers released a statement which says in part, "Ricker’s is flaunting longstanding Indiana public policy by choosing to thumb their nose at the Indiana General Assembly and the courts."

There are 56 Ricker’s locations throughout Indiana.

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