If you suddenly crave a beer and want to buy some, you will need to check the time before you go out. Although you can always get alcohol online, most stores and bars have working hours. Plus, getting a beer on Sunday can be a challenging task.
If you want to know what time you can buy beer, you will need to get acquainted with local liquor laws. Hours of sale mainly depend on the state where you live.
Where Can You Buy Beer?
Nowadays, you can buy beer almost anywhere around you, assuming you are 21 and older. The list goes from grocery and retail stores to liquor stores, gas stations, and Walmart.
However, there are some limitations when it comes to facilities near schools, churches, or hospitals. This rule is state-regulated, so that laws can differ in Texas and Minnesota, for example.
If you live near a school or similar facility, you should consider this before going shopping for your favorite beer. The smartest thing is to have a few spare cans at home. That way, you are all set if you get thirsty after the liquor stores are closed.
On and Off-premises Sale
There are two ways of selling beer, and alcoholic beverages in general, including on- and off-premises.
1. On-premises sales
Restaurants and bars sell beer on-premises. That means you can enjoy a drink where you order it. In that case, you can only buy beer during the place’s working hours.
Typically, bars and restaurants are opened at 9 or 10 AM, while closed anywhere from 9 PM to midnight. Some night bars can extend their working hours up to 2 AM.
Keep in mind that these hours of sale are not written in stone and vary significantly during the weekdays, weekends, and holidays. If you have a favorite place to go, you should ask what time do they close and avoid coming for a beer and find yourself in front of locked doors.
2. Off-premises sales
If you buy a beer during weekly shopping at a local market, it is considered an off-premises sale. In such a case, you should take that beer home and enjoy it later. The same goes for taking one for the road on the gas station.
Keep in mind that some stores are closed on Sundays, Christmas, and holidays such as Independence Day. Still, talking about regular days, you can buy beer there from 8 or 9 AM. Some local stores open early, even at 6 AM.
Many of them work on Sundays but have restricted working hours. Some close at 2 PM, while others work up to 4 PM. If you want to buy beer late at night, the best option is to go to the nearest gas station that operates 24/7.
Buying beer on Sundays also depends on the state you live in. In some of them, you can stay empty-handed even when stores are open.
For example, grocery stores in Alaska are not allowed to sell beer, and in Connecticut, off-premises beer is not permitted on Sundays. So, you can go to a restaurant or bar that day and order a beer, but you can’t buy it at the gas station, for example.
Liquor Laws by State
In many US states, the sale of beer and other alcohol is regulated by local ABC Alcoholic Beverage Control agencies or local districts. For example, that is the case in Colorado, Georgia, and Florida.
- Georgia is specific because it has specific rules about selling beer. For example, all beers with more than 14% ABV (alcohol by volume) are illegal. You can buy on-premises beer, but you are limited to one drink, not larger than 16 ounces (473 ml).
- However, some states have very mild liquor laws. In Louisiana, you can buy beer whenever you want, with no restrictions on either on- or off-premises sales. Moreover, you can take your beverage from one bar to the next one or drink it on the street.
- The same loose regulations rule in Missouri where you can buy beer from 6 AM to 1:30 AM almost everywhere. The exception is Sundays when you can purchase alcoholic beverages between 9 AM and midnight.
- Although buying and possess alcohol are prohibited for minors, consumption is not. Therefore, parents can offer beer to their children without second thoughts. You can buy a beer in any grocery store, pub, or gas station. Missouri is one of the rare US states with no dry counties at all.
- The possible winner is the state of Nevada that has very few liquor regulations. You can buy a beer 24/7 almost everywhere, and public intoxication is legal. The only strictly followed rule is the federal law regarding prohibiting selling alcohol to persons under 21.
If you live in Kansas, Mississippi, or Tennessee, you will have more challenges getting a beer than other states’ residents. They belong to the so-called dry states, which means that the sale of alcoholic beverages there is prohibited or tightly restricted.
The State of Alabama allows local cities and counties to determine on a referendum whether, where, and when they can sell beer and other alcoholic beverages. In Mississippi, for example, the sale of beer in grocery stores is allowed, but on Christmas day, you can’t buy alcohol anywhere.
Most of the districts are entirely dry, while alcohol sale is prohibited only on Sundays in others. On the other hand, you can get free beer in 24/7 coastal casinos in some parts of the Mississippi state.
Kansas is one of the states with the most restrictive alcohol laws in the US. In addition to keeping the law banning all alcohol until 1987, the state allowed alcohol sale on Sundays only in 2005. On-premises beer sales are not allowed in most districts, and the strongest beer you can find in grocery stores has 3.2% ABV.
Tennessee districts are divided into three categories – dry, wet, and moist. In nine dry districts, the sale of alcohol is entirely prohibited. Luckily, you can still buy beer in the other 86 districts.
There are detailed rules about who and when can sell beer. If you live in these areas or come here as a tourist, you better inquire well before going shopping.
Don’t forget Kentucky that has 53 entirely dry counties. You will risk legal consequences even if you possess alcohol. So, not only are you prohibited from buying beer, but home-brewing is out of questions in these areas.
Buying Beer Online
If you are one of those who buy beer to enjoy its taste, you can skip going out and order alcohol online. There are several advantages to this type of purchase:
- You can buy from the privacy of your home
- You don’t need to think about liquor store working hours
- It is easier to compare prices online
- There is a larger selection of beers than at your local store
- You can order 24/7
- You can save time on going to the store and back
Still, some people prefer going out and having a beer rather than drinking it at home. There are a few more drawbacks to online beer shopping:
- You need to pay a delivery fee of around $10, depending on the area of your residence
- You will wait for a delivery, sometimes for hours or days
- Sometimes shipping problems, mixed orders, or sending to the wrong address may occur
- Many stores offer significant discounts and coupons for shopping in-store rather than online
Beer Sale During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the question of when you can buy beer has become even more complicated. Many restaurants, pubs, and nightclubs are closed, and shops operate part-time. Some of them went out of business.
Plus, there are some quarantine measures to prevent the spread of the infection in the US. These restrictions vary from state to state and even district to district.
Overall, the pandemic has hit the beer industry hard and globally. Many small breweries are forced to stop production, so it can quickly happen that you can no longer buy your favorite craft beer.
Still, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in online beer sales. People in quarantine have consumed beer and other alcoholic beverages more often due to stress or grieving for losing loved ones.
If you live in a quarantined area, you will potentially have problems buying a beer. Keep in mind that you can quickly order six-pack online, but the delivery time can be prolonged, depending on current circumstances.
If there are open stores near you, ask whether their working hours are shortened. That way, you can plan your shopping list following current regulations and provide enough beer until the next time you leave the house.
You can buy beer in many places during their working hours, whether you drink it on the spot or not. Still, various state laws regulate beer stores’ hours of a sale. Many restaurants and bars have closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but you can order beer online 24/7.