Truth about legality of buying/selling & muling

I apologize if this has been discussed. I’m sure a lot of you are in other social media forums and may mule or have mulers that you pay for beer. I’ve been hearing a lot about people raising fears that one can get in trouble for this. I’m largely ignorant to this, and just want to know know more than I do.

Is buying and selling to a person in the manner these forums present actually a real concern if done person to person?

Also, is this something that agencies are committing resources to stopping?

How do breweries who manufacture this interest through special releases, and ultimately this black market feel about what’s happening? I.E. Other Half, Veil, Equilibrium

irt paragraph one: I have never been a mule or hired a mule. But I am familiar with the practice, and I consider it very low-brow. No laws prohibit this, but the brewery may have its own policy which if violated they could refuse to allocate you beer. You could also get the shit beat out of you by other unhappy (would-be)buyers. Keep in mind special releases are often planned so that as there is a fair share distribution and gaming that system makes you a scumbag as you are taking someone else’s fair share.

two: I do not understand wtf you are asking.

three: no

four: I do not understand the question

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It is probably technically illegal in the US to engage in the sale of alcohol without a license. On the kind of small scale involved in muling/hoarding and selling at markup to whale hunters, it is very doubtful any agency is interested in investigating.
But I will say that the practice of muling/hoarding that kicked in in force about 12-13 years ago was a big part of what ruined the craft beer culture, and esp the trading culture on ratebeer.
I agree with Stefan, personally, that anyone who does it is a scumbag. And a dick.

Thanks for the responses. Like I said, I’m trying to understand other people’s thoughts on it. Also, the whole topic of it in general.

The hoarding I think we all agree on, what I’m perhaps confused by is why you’d be opposed to a muler that’s doing something you don’t have time for. So if that muler is taking orders to gauge in interest and only selling what they have orders for, what’s the objection to that?

Also, one question I’d ask is after seeing these initial responses. How much frustration is appropriate for the brewery not meeting demand or limiting available quantities. Or perhaps furthermore not making there products more readily available?

Mainly because mules end up buying up a big chunk of the limited release. Esp problematic are those where the # of bottles is limited per person, so the mule brings extra mules with him just to buy up the supply and resell to people who couldn’t attend, limiting whats left for the people who do attend (and some go empty handed while others leave with a trunkload of beer)
As for blaming the brewery for not making more: that seems silly. Small breweries have limits on batch size, esp for special projects like barrel aging. But I’m not a big fan of the special release days like Dark Lord Day etc. All this does is facilitate the mules.

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Legally, if you don’t have a liquor license, you can’t sell alcohol - depends on the local police to whether they would want to go to the trouble of prosecuting for it (probably not unless you are doing it large scale or at a public location). As for muling, as long as the mule and the payer are both 21 or older, there shouldn’t be anything illegal about this. A brewer can prohibit it, but it would be a policy and not a law.

I’m not sure how much the brewers care about this - as long as the demand stays high, I don’t think many of them worry about it. Anyway it’s difficult and time consuming to combat so even if the brewer does care, most of them don’t have the ability to do anything about it. Three Floyds has put in steps to try to decrease this during Dark Lord Day, but it doesn’t seem to have changed much (you can buy 2 tickets each which seems like it would encourage muling) and on top of it, they are making more money than ever before ($180 for entrance, 4 bottles of DL and 1 bottle of specialty DL - and then you get to pay $5 or $10 for an 8 ounce pour (if you’re lucky) of the beers on tap).

It was frustrating for me 10 years ago, but anymore I don’t care that much. There is such an incredible selection of beers now that it doesn’t matter to me anymore if I miss the current “hot” beer.

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exactly this. In part, the frustration of getting those beers was part of what killed my interest in even trying. So I stopped trying, stopped trading. and just started enjoying drinking whatever was available to me, which is still pretty good stuff.


I pretty much avoid any beer releases due to this. If I get the beer because a friend went or because it’s still available days/weeks later, I’ll go for it. But standing in line? Not really for me anymore, final straw was not a bottle release, but a beer release at a local bar that had HF beers.

Some of these beers are expensive just for one bottle. I can’t imagine anyone willing to shell out for a case of some of these beers. I know many times it’s just trade bait for the grey market, but still. I’d be that guy who shows up to a release, and gets one 4 pack or one single bottle of whatever is being released, or to try it on draft and then leave empty handed.

It’s kind of amazing the lengths that some people will take to hoard as much of a release as possible. Paying randos on Craigslist to stand in line with them, dragging their friends to a release just to add another body to grab the max allotment.

If I tried to drag my friends along to stand in line and mule for me they’d rightly tell me to fuck off.

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I’m not sure if the OP was asking about this either, but there’s also the legality of moving alcohol across state lines.

A long time ago (like 30+ years ago) people would be busted constantly for crossing the DC/VA line with a few bottles of wine you could only get in one location or the other. ABC had a whole sting operation going on with that.

Don’t think they really care all that much anymore, but if they pulled a car over and it happened to be hauling hundreds of dollars (maybe even thousands) worth of beer (like the entire trunk or backseat of a car that some people proudly will take photos of and share), some eyebrows might be raised. Bet you could get out of it pretty easily with some excuse, unless they caught you right over the state line.

I’m reminded of the sad tale of cquiroga and the state of Utah circa 2002.

My main interest wasn’t necessarily the ethical stances. I was mostly wondering if there was any validity to the FB Beer Group page muling/trading scares.

What caused me to in disbelief was that anybody would waste time and taxpayer money policing beer nerds trading and selling beer.

Many states rely on taxes from beer sales to meet fiscal commitments. In those states they sometimes clamp down on unlicensed (i.e. un-taxed) beer sales when found. Enforcement varies by state, and I suspect every state police has a division dedicated to investigating ATF violations.

I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, but I imagine any real legal danger is greatly exaggerated by those on these sites.