The Three Tier System is simple really, Producer or Importer to Distributor to Retailer to Customer.
|Retailer and Customers|
The system has in fact, become a hollow shell. In-state ownership is a joke. Most distribution companies now are national enterprises that merely have subsidiaries in each state. Cross-tier ownership has become common; drinks-makers establish subsidiaries - often in the names of different members of the owner's family - that buy stakes in tier-two distributors. This is why small brewers, distillers and vintners so often complain that their products can't get shelf space