Alcohol law passes the House, now on to the Senate

The Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill last Wednesday that would relax state liquor laws by lifting restrictions on growler sales by major craft breweries and allowing small distilleries to directly sell their spirits to customers.

Currently, state law bans breweries that produce more than 20,000 barrels a year from selling growlers. Under the bill that passed the House last week, the so-called ‘Growler Cap’ would increase to 150,000 barrels. The Growler Cap currently affects Castle Danger in Two Harbors, Summit in St. Paul’s Summit, Fulton and Surly in Minneapolis, and Schell’s in New Ulm. According to the Alliance of Minnesota Craft Breweries, these five are the only breweries out of more than 8,000 in the United States that cannot sell beer directly to customers, thanks to our state’s arcane liquor laws.

The House bill would also allow small distilleries to sell bottles of up to 750 milliliters of spirits per customer or up to 1.125 liters per customer of any approved size no larger than 375 milliliters. Smaller brewers who produce less than 7,500 barrels would be able to sell up to 128 ounces a day in approved containers, opening the possibility for six-pack sales.

Center of the American Experiment has long supported reforms such as these. Our state’s craft breweries and distilleries are entrepreneurial success stories that we ought to applaud. These laws — which exist solely for the benefit of rent-seeking retailers — do nothing but hold back Minnesota’s brewing and distilling industries. WCCO reports:

Jamie MacFarlane, chief financial officer at Castle Danger Brewing in Two Harbors, said she was “cautiously optimistic” that she would be able to sell growlers once again at her taproom. Castle Danger surpassed the current production limit in October 2019.

That made weathering the pandemic, which shuttered the taproom for months, even more difficult, she said. She has been pushing the legislature to change the law.

“We’re talking about getting growlers ready to go as soon as we can. We’re excited,” MacFarlane said. “Customers expect to be able to get that and when they come in and they can’t, it’s hard for our bartenders to explain why they can’t.”

We hope that the Senate picks up this bill and passes it.