Originally published May 11
ST. Paul, Minn. (WCCO) – The Minnesota House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a proposal that marks the most significant change to the state’s alcohol law since allowing Sunday sales.
It will allow the state’s smaller breweries to sell four and six packs of takeout beer (currently, they can only sell 64 oz. Growlers and 25.4 oz. Crowlers) and distilleries to sell bottles of liquor. their greater strength.
The bill also “frees up growers,” raising the production limit from 20,000 barrels to 150,000 barrels so the state’s largest breweries, including Surly and Summit, can sell on-site growers. Only five breweries hit the 20,000-barrel limit and were unable to sell takeaway beer.
The bill passed 85-48 pm Wednesday. The proposal needs to pass the Senate, where its fate is unclear. Have a bill of wine is passed through that chamber but it does not include approved changes in the House.
Representative Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, spent months meeting with stakeholders — retailers, manufacturers, and distributors — to find a compromise everyone could agree to. Changes to state law have been stymied in previous years because of disagreements between key alcohol-related industries.
“We have finally come to a point where everyone can agree on how we are modernizing the state liquor laws and really supporting craft breweries and distilleries,” says Stephenson. work that Minnesotans really love.
But the deal didn’t go as far as some in the industry hoped: “Nobody gets everything they want, but everyone gets what they want,” Stephenson said.
Jamie MacFarlane, chief financial officer of Castle Danger Brewing in Two Harbors, said she’s “cautiously optimistic” that she’ll be able to resell her bathroom growers. Castle Danger passed its current production limit in October 2019.
That makes fighting the pandemic, which has closed bathrooms for months, even harder, she said. She pushed the legislature to change the law.
“We are talking about getting growers ready as soon as possible. We are very excited,” said MacFarlane. “Customers expect to be able to have that and when they come in and they can’t, it’s hard for our bartenders to explain why they can’t.”
The law also allows any distillery to have a cocktail lounge as long as they produce it in the state. Tattersall Distillation notably moved most of its production to Wisconsin Last year, because it reached its current production limit, it was forced to close its cocktail lounge in Minneapolis. It cited Minnesota’s “restrictive” alcohol laws as forcing them out of the state.
Jeremy Mathison, founder of Broken Clock Brewery in Northeast Minneapolis, said the proposal offers a way to grow the business. He said customers often ask why they can’t buy beer that isn’t in a blender or grinder.
“That was great for us,” he said. “Having the ability to sell 12 and 16 oz cans at home not only gives us the ability to make more money, but it also allows us to put it in a preferred pack size to really get some distribution. to the liquor store to make money that way as well.”
Disagreement for Council to propose future changes
Another part of the proposal would create a nine-member Alcohol Regulation Advisory Council representing various stakeholder groups, including liquor stores, wholesalers, breweries and distilleries. .
The board will make recommendations to the legislature on future changes to the state’s alcohol laws.
Anne Neu Brindley, R-North Branch, criticized the provision and sought to remove it from the bill, although she acknowledged there were parts she supported.
She is concerned that there are no consumers represented on the council and points to a story about MPR News announced a truce between the major parties in the alcohol debate to keep other proposals for five years. She said the group would be self-catering.
“This council was set up to act in their own best interests,” says Neu Brindley. “This bill promotes the politicization of alcohol regulations in Minnesota.”