Not everyone understands the passion craft beer lovers can have for special and rare beers. It can lead people to buy and trade beer in all sorts of ways outside of the normal bounds of purchasing alcohol, which the law isn’t always ok with. That’s what happened in Waltham, Massachusetts to a 44-year-old Michael Miller, according to Fox 43, who was charged for “selling malt/brewed beverages without a license.”
Miller wasn’t selling beer out of a physical commercial establishment, but rather had set up a website for trading rare and collectible beer called My Beer Cellar. His site is advertised as “the premiere portal for the selling and buying of collectible beer bottles, cans, signs, and other memorabilia.” Furthermore, the site offers users the ability to find and trade “Pre-Prohibition and hard-to-find still sealed modern examples of collectible beer bottles.”
According to Fox 43, officers set up a sting operation to take down Mr. Miller. Police posed as potential buyers and requested to purchase $700 worth of specialty beer, which amounted to 57 bottles. After the transaction went down, Mr. Miller was arrested.
While selling beer, wine and spirits without a license is certainly illegal, this situation could be perceived to be a bit of a reach. If Mr. Miller owned a bar, convenience or liquor store, and was selling on a large commercial scale, his arrest would be more understandable. Nevertheless, it appears that his website was making a profit off of selling beer without a license. And legally, you might not be able to make a distinction between a physical liquor store and a digital one. If the site allowed users to simply trade beer (like what’s done on Reddit and in craft beer lines), there probably wouldn’t be any legal impropriety.