Beer sales are often divided into on-premise and off-premise sales. This categorization is based on available licenses in the alcoholic drink business. The on-premise licenses sell and serve alcoholic beverages for consumption on licensed premises. These licenses are issued for the types of business where alcoholic beverages are sold on the premises, for example at bars, pubs, restaurants or clubs. In contrast, the off-premise licenses sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off the licensed premises. These licenses are issued for the types of businesses where alcoholic drinks are sold for consumption elsewhere, for example at grocery stores, convenience stores, drug stores and cash and carry.
The license class definitions vary among the different states. In New York State, for example, “Eating place beer” licensees are permitted to sell beer for consumption on the premises. Food must be prepared and served on the premises and the selling of beer must not be the primary source of revenue. In addition, license holders may also sell off beer for consumption off the premises.
Most of on-premise beer volume sales were sold through bars and taverns in the United States in 2015, followed by restaurants and recreation venues. U.S. off-premise beer volume sales were mostly generated through convenience stores in that year.