Three-Tier System

The alcohol distribution system made up of importers or producers; distributors; and retailers that was set up in the United States after the repeal of Prohibition.

Under a pure three-tier system, a brewer cannot be a wholesaler or a retailer, a wholesaler cannot own a retail outlet, and a retailer may only sell alcohol to the consumer. In theory, the wholesaler and the retailer are independent businesses that make their own choices about what beers to carry.

Exceptions to the three-tier system include allowing brewers to self-distribute and letting brewers sell beer from a store at the brewery.