Freedom to grow for Minnesota’s brewers and distillers

Minnesota’s craft brewers have been an economic success story over the last decade. According to the Brewer’s Association, there were 35 craft breweries operating statewide in 2011; in 2020, that number was up to 217, an increase of 520 percent. While the craft beer boom has been a nationwide phenomenon, Minnesota has been something of a market leader: it ranks 13th nationally for breweries per capita.

This success is largely due to free market policies, which have given these brewers the freedom to innovate and grow. Starting in the 1970s, the federal excise tax has been cut and smaller breweries exempted. Deregulation saw home brewing legalized. Brewpubs —breweries with restaurants or pubs on the premises — were legalized in every state, Minnesota doing so in 1987. In 2011, Minnesota’s production breweries won the right to operate and sell their own beer onsite in a taproom.

Nevertheless, both tax and regulatory barriers to further growth remain. Removing these can help our state’s craft brewers and distillers to continue their success.

In our new Policy Briefing ‘Freedom to grow for Minnesota’s brewers and distillers‘ — the first of a new series designed to give the public and policy makers the essentials of an issue — we explain why state policymakers should:

  • Cut state alcohol excise taxes
  • Remove the ‘Growler Cap’ and limits on distillery sales
  • Free breweries and distilleries to sell in vessel sizes of their own choosing

Minnesota’s craft breweries and distilleries are American success stories of people following their dreams to make a living doing something they love.

Tax and regulatory policy should be geared towards helping them. These measures would be big steps in that direction.