Do Montana Grocery Stores Sell Liquor?

Do Montana grocery stores sell liquor?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve likely encountered a situation where you urgently need to purchase a bottle of your beverage but are unsure of the best course of action.

Here’s the deal: Montana is renowned for its scenery and opportunities, but when it comes to purchasing liquor the regulations can sometimes be unclear.

While some states allow liquor sales in grocery stores, Montana has its own unique set of regulations.

The state operates a system of state-run and agency liquor stores, which means that finding your favorite libations at your neighborhood supermarket might be a bit challenging.

But fret not! this article will not only shed light on whether Montana grocery stores sell liquor. 

It will also provide you with valuable insights on where to find alcohol, how to navigate alcohol sales, and what to expect from the state’s unique approach to libations.

Sit tight and together, let’s uncork the truth about where you can find your favorite adult beverages in the Treasure State.

Montana Liquor Laws Overview

A hand holding a gavel

Montana has some intriguing liquor laws that you should be aware of if you plan on visiting or residing in the state. 

First things first, the legal age for the sale or provision of alcoholic beverages in Montana is 21 years, with a few exceptions.

Providing alcohol to a person under 21 is prohibited, unless it’s nonintoxicating quantities provided by a parent or guardian, for medicinal purposes by a physician or dentist, upon prescription by a licensed pharmacist, or for religious observance by an ordained minister or priest.

But here’s the important part: selling or providing an intoxicating quantity of alcohol to a person under 21 is a big no-no.

And what do we mean by “intoxicating quantity,” you may ask?

It’s an amount of alcohol that results in a blood, breath, or urine alcohol concentration exceeding 0.05% or causing substantial impaired judgment.

Participating in actions such as inviting, treating, giving, purchasing, or permitting alcohol consumption by a person under 21 in a public place where alcohol is sold can also get you in trouble with the law.

Misrepresenting your age or falsifying identification cards in relation to alcohol consumption is even more unlawful. 

Here’s a kicker: if you’re over 21 and you knowingly provide an intoxicating quantity of alcohol to someone under 21, you may be held civilly liable for any damages resulting from that intoxicated person’s actions caused by the violation. 

If you’re under 18 years old, you better not be employed as a bartender, waiter, or waitress who serves liquors, beer, or wines in establishments that sell alcohol at retail. 

Understanding and following Montana’s liquor laws and regulations is vital whether you’re planning a visit or looking to settle in this picturesque state.

Do Montana Grocery Stores Offer Liquor?

A couple shops for groceries

Alright, let’s tackle this burning question: do Montana grocery stores offer the liquid gold we call liquor?

Well, the answer is both a yes and a no. You see, in the great state of Montana, grocery stores do have the ability to sell beer and wine, but when it comes to the hard stuff, they come up a little short.

Agency Liquor Stores

Many bottles of liquor are lined up on a bar

In Montana, there is a unique approach when it comes to selling liquor.

You won’t find it in your regular grocery stores or gas stations like in many other states.

Here, we believe in moderation and control, which is why we have what are called agency liquor stores.

As a control state, Montana recognizes that the best way to achieve moderation is not by promoting or encouraging alcohol consumption, but by ensuring it is controlled.

That’s where agency liquor stores come in. These are privately owned liquor stores that have a contract with the State of Montana to sell distilled spirits and wine to the public and alcoholic beverage licensees.

Currently, Montana has 95 agency liquor stores scattered across the state.

These stores are the places where you can buy liquor for off-premise consumption.

If you wish to savor a bottle of your whiskey or celebrate with a bottle of champagne you’ll have to go to one of these agency liquor stores.

Montana considers its alcohol laws important and the creation of alcohol policies is a continuous endeavor.

This approach helps to ensure the responsible sale and purchase of alcohol, as well as preventing alcohol incidents and alcohol abuse related to its consumption.

Proof of alcohol sales is necessary, and the content and cost of alcohol sales are regulated.

If you are concerned about Montana’s sales tax system then know that Montana imposes no sales tax. However, there’s an excise tax imposed on the trade and distribution of alcoholic beverages.

Agency liquor stores are the only place to find a wide selection of spirits and wines, all while adhering to our state’s belief in controlling alcohol consumption.

Off-Premise Retail License

A woman and a man standing in a grocery store

The off-premise retail license in Montana is a fascinating concept that allows certain establishments to sell beer and table wine for off-premises consumption.

This type of license is typically granted to convenience stores, grocery stores, specialty beer, and wine stores, and even drugstores licensed as a pharmacy.

It’s incredible to think that you can now pick up your favorite brew or bottle of wine alongside your daily groceries or prescriptions.

One important rule to note is that no consumption of beer and wine can occur on the premises of these licensed establishments in Montana.

They are strictly meant to sell alcohol that customers can enjoy at home or at their desired location.

However, it’s interesting to know that with the exception of sacramental wine licensees, all other off-premises retail license types can promote the sale of beer and table wine for curbside pickup.

Yes, you heard it right – you can now conveniently swing by for a quick pickup, even using the drive-through window if available!

It’s crucial to acknowledge that there are regulations and restrictions in place to ensure responsible alcohol sales.

The availability of beer in grocery stores and other off-premise retail license holders is carefully monitored in Montana.

This helps maintain the correct balance and prevent any potential issues that may arise from unrestricted alcohol sales.

By adhering to these regulations and staying within the allocated ounces per customer, Montana ensures the absorption of alcohol is controlled and safer for everyone. 

Hours of Sale Restrictions

A man laying with an alarm clock

According to Montana regulations, agency liquor stores are required to operate for a minimum of 6 hours per day, from Tuesday to Saturday.

These hours fall within the timeframe of 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. This allows plenty of opportunity for customers to conveniently purchase their favorite beverages.

Off-premise retail licensees such as convenience stores and grocery stores can also sell beer and wine within the same timeframe of 8 a.m. to 2.a.m.

It’s worth mentioning that these places are shut down during official holidays. Moreover, there’s a temporary closure from the close of normal working hours on Saturday until business resumes on Tuesday morning.

This ensures that there is a compromise on operating hours to maintain a balance between availability and responsible consumption.

It’s worth mentioning that certain cities or towns may have additional alcohol sale hour restrictions imposed by local ordinances. In such cases, the establishment must comply with both the statewide and local restrictions.

While the hours of sale restrictions may seem like a minor inconvenience, they play a vital role in regulating the availability of liquor in grocery stores.

By adhering to these specific times and days, Montana ensures responsible alcohol sales while still providing convenience for consumers.

Can You Buy Liquor at Montana Costco?

Wine bottles

The state of Montana is renowned for its breathtaking scenery and outdoor activities.

But things can be a little perplexing when it comes to purchasing booze. Knowing where to get a good drink is always pleasant, and Costco can help with that.

Costco, the membership-only big-box retail giant, is famous for offering its customers substantial savings through bulk purchases and exclusive member discounts.

Sadly when it comes to liquor, the selection at Montana Costco stores is a bit limited.

In Montana, only beer and wine can be sold at Costco.

So, if you’re looking for a bottle of your favorite whiskey or a fancy gin for your next cocktail, you won’t find it at Montana Costco.

But don’t lose hope! Montana’s Costco locations offer a wide variety of beers, including local and international options, and their wine collection is truly remarkable.

And of course, you can always count on Costco for competitive prices on your favorite alcoholic products.

It’s important to note that in Montana, you need a Costco membership to purchase beer and wine at their stores. 

Even though the liquor options might be limited in Montana, you can still take advantage of Costco’s competitive prices on beer and wine and enjoy a variety of liquor selections.

Montana Alcohol Selling Regulations

A no alcohol sign

In Montana, the laws and regulations surrounding the sale of alcohol are carefully enforced to ensure responsible consumption and adherence to licensing requirements.

It’s important to note that sales of liquor stores in Montana are exclusively operated by the government, establishing a monopoly on the sale of alcoholic beverages.

One key aspect of these regulations is that licensed retail establishments selling alcohol must remain closed between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. each day.

During these closing times, only the licensee and their employees are permitted on the premises, and all others are excluded.

When it comes to serving or selling open-container alcohol, there are age restrictions in place.

According to Montana law (39-2-306 MCA), individuals who serve or sell alcohol must be at least 18 years old. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

There is no age limit for a person to sell or receive shipments of alcohol in a closed container.

It’s crucial for providers to be aware of the liability involved in selling or providing alcohol to individuals under 21 years of age.

As outlined in 16-6-305, there are criminal and administrative penalties, including potential incarceration and jail time, for those who violate this law.

Montana takes alcohol laws and responsible sales seriously, ensuring the proper implementation of regulations to protect both consumers and the community.

Liquor Sales in Montana Grocery Stores Final Thoughts

A man holding a basket full of beer bottles in a supermarket

After analyzing the regulations surrounding liquor sales in Montana grocery stores, it is clear that there are both benefits and drawbacks to consider.

On one hand, these establishments have the opportunity to expand their offerings and potentially increase revenue by selling alcohol.

This convenience allows customers to complete all their shopping in one location, saving time and effort.

The ability to sell alcohol may attract more customers to grocery stores, boosting business.

However, there are also significant drawbacks to consider. The liability involved in selling alcohol, especially to individuals under 21 years of age, is a serious concern.

Violations of this law can result in administrative and criminal penalties, including potential incarceration and jail time.

Furthermore, there are strict age restrictions in place for those who serve or sell alcohol.

It is important for grocery stores to carefully weigh the potential benefits against the risks and responsibilities associated with selling alcohol.

Adequate training and adherence to the law are crucial to ensure the responsible and legal sale of alcohol.

Ultimately, the decision to sell alcohol in Montana grocery stores should be made with careful consideration and in compliance with all applicable regulations.

Liquor Sales in Montana Grocery Stores FAQs

1. Is Montana a Dry State?

No, Montana is not considered a dry state as it does not have legislation that prohibits the sale of alcohol.

Residents and visitors can still find liquor stores and grocery stores that sell a variety of alcoholic beverages, including beer delivery and other alcohol delivery options.

Overall, Montana allows for the legal sale and consumption of alcohol within its borders.

2. What Is the Minimum Drinking Age in Montana?

Well, just like the rest of the United States, the minimum drinking age in the Treasure State is 21 years old.

Of course, as with any rule, there are a few exceptions.

For example, individuals under 21 years old can possess and consume alcohol if it’s for a religious or medicinal purpose and has been authorized by a responsible adult. 

3. Which States Have State-Owned Liquor Stores?

The states of Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, and certain jurisdictions in Alaska, Maryland, Minnesota, and South Dakota, have embraced the concept of state-run liquor stores.

The operation of these state-owned liquor stores gives the government direct control over liquor stores.

With this control, the state aims to ensure responsible and safe alcohol consumption while also maximizing the revenue generated from liquor sales.

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Written by:

Chris Hall
Hi, I'm Chris Hall, co-founder of Growing up among Montana's breathtaking landscapes ignited my passion for travel. While I've journeyed to many corners of the world, the allure of Montana's wild beauty always draws me back. To me, travel is about understanding the soul of a place, and Montana has a special place in my heart. It's where endless adventures meet raw nature.

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