Each state has its own rules and regulations for buying and selling beer. What are California’s beer laws, and what should consumers know about them?
In California, you can buy bottles, cans, kegs, growlers, and draft beer from retail locations, bars, and restaurants every day from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Beer delivery is available through both businesses or third-party services. Breweries can fill and sell growlers. The legal drinking age in California is 21 and drinking and driving is illegal.
Continue reading for a comprehensive look at California’s beer laws, including where and when to buy it and other details about these laws.
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Is California a dry state?
A dry state is one where alcohol and the sale of it are illegal or greatly restricted. There are no longer any dry states in the U.S., though.
California is not a dry state and there are no counties or cities in the state that are considered ‘dry.’ By law, all localities in California are allowed to create stricter alcohol laws.
Beer can be found in any part of California and in many retail locations, including grocery stores and gas stations at just about any time of day.
Does California have any dry counties?
California is not a dry state but it does permit any locality to enact stricter alcohol sales laws.
As of 2023, California does not have any dry counties. Any locality in California has the right by California law to enact more strict alcohol sales.
When can you buy beer in California?
California’s alcohol sale hours are straight to the point.
In California, alcohol can be sold in any licensed location, including bars, restaurants, and retailers, any day of the week from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. the following day.
California’s relatively lax laws for alcohol sales times make it convenient for people buying beer in the golden state.
Can you buy beer on Sunday in California?
You can purchase beer on Sundays in California.
In California, you can buy beer on Sundays from 6 a.m. Sunday morning until 2 a.m. Monday morning at any location that sells it.
Beer can be purchased on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter in California.
When do bars close in California?
In general, bars in California close at the same time.
As a standard rule, bars in California can be open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. California’s Senate Bill 905, passed on Aug. 30, 2018, allows the following cities to keep their bars open later:
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- West Hollywood
- Long Beach
- Palm Springs
These cities are considered pilot cities for bill 905 and their bars are allowed to be open until 4 a.m.
Where can you buy beer in California?
Given California’s alcohol sale-friendly legislature, you can expect to find beer in a handful of places.
Beer is readily available in various locations in California, including:
- Bars and restaurants
- Gas stations
- Grocery stores
- Package and liquor stores
- Breweries and taprooms
The hours of operation for each of these locations are very similar, but note that each location can set its hours as long as they fall within the law.
Continue reading for more detailed information on buying beer from each of these locations.
Bars and restaurants
In California, bars and restaurants are allowed to sell beer from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. the following day. If the city in question was granted extended serving hours as part of California’s Senate Bill 905, its bars can opt to stay open until 4 a.m.
Bars and restaurants in California can sell beer in cans, bottles, or on draft, and can sell beer in its original packaging to-go for off-premise consumption.
Gas stations in California can sell beer from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m any day of the week. This is the statewide standard, but localities have the option to vote on and change these hours.
Gas stations sell beer in cans and bottles.
In California, grocery stores can sell beer from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. any day of the week, including Sundays.
Grocery stores can sell beer in cans and bottles. They are also permitted to sell beer on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter.
Package and liquor stores
Liquor stores in California are permitted to sell alcohol. These locations are open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day and are not barred by holiday restrictions.
Liquor stores can sell beer in cans or bottles in 6-packs or greater. These locations also have options for buying or renting kegs of beer.
Breweries and taprooms
Breweries in California can open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day. Most of these locations do not open or close at these times, and instead opt for a profitable timeframe within the allowed hours.
These locations can sell beer in cans, bottles, or on draft for on-premise consumption. They can also sell beer to-go if it’s in its original packaging.
Can you get beer delivered in California?
Beer can be delivered in California under specific rules and regulations set forth by the California ABC.
Laws for beer delivery in California include:
- Licensees are ultimately responsible for the delivery of alcoholic beverages away from their licensed premises,
- Beer cannot be delivered to minors,
- Drinks to-go from restaurants must be in proper packaging and sold and delivered with food.
- Third-party services like Drizly and Minibar are permitted.
What is the minimum drinking age in California?
The legal drinking age in the United States is 21 years old. Some states have exceptions to that law for minors, such as drinking with parents, but California is not one of them.
The minimum drinking age in California is 21 years old, without exception.
Parents are prohibited from furnishing their children with alcohol or allowing them to drink it in the home. Violation of this law is punishable with a fine and jail time.
Can minors drink beer in California with parents?
Some states allow minors to drink beer at home with their parents for dinner or as part of a religious ceremony or event. California, however, is not one of those states.
The minimum drinking age in California is 21 without any exceptions.
Furnishing a minor with alcohol is illegal and can result in up to a $1,000 fine and one year of jail time.
Drinking laws in California
California follows reasonable laws for drinking in the state. It’s easy to get alcohol and the laws prohibit minors from drinking. In general, California’s drinking laws are straightforward.
California allows the sale of alcohol in multiple types of locations and permits the sale of it during most hours of the day. There are no dry counties in California and alcohol is available in every city.
The state allows alcohol sales during major holidays and offers to-go options for bars, restaurants, and breweries.
Can you buy growlers and other unsealed beer containers in California?
Growlers are a great way to try local craft beer and provide customers with an alternative to a 6-pack or case of beer.
Retail locations such as grocery stores, gas stations, and other packaged beer stores are allowed to sell properly packaged growlers. These locations can not fill growlers.
Growlers can only be filled at a licensed manufacturer and must meet packaging and labeling requirements.
Open containers in California are illegal either on foot or while driving.
You cannot have an open container of alcohol in California at any time outside of a private residence or an on-premise location. You can have an open container in a vehicle if it’s in the trunk or if you are a passenger in a taxi, bus, or limousine.
You cannot have an open container while walking and public intoxication is illegal.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol is illegal in California.
The blood alcohol limit (BAC) may not exceed 0.08% without a penalty.
Under 21 years old
There are stricter laws for drinking and driving for anyone under the age of 21.
It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with a BAC higher than 0.01% or higher as any alcohol consumption at that age is illegal. Those under 21 must participate in a preliminary alcohol screening, a breath or blood test, and a subsequent third test. If each shows a BAC of 0.05% or higher, your license will be suspended for one year and you will be arrested.
California has a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving under the age of 21.
21 years and older
For drivers 21 years and older, the legal BAC for operating a motor vehicle is 0.08% with a penalty of six months in jail and a fine between $390–$1,000 the first time you are convicted.
Your vehicle may be impounded and is subject to storage fees.