Success! Liquor law reform is passed, but the fight isn’t over
On Sunday, Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill to reform Minnesota’s liquor laws. Nicknamed the “Free the Growler” bill, the measure raises the annual cap on craft beer production from…
Minnesota is now the last state holding out on limiting grocery and convenience stores to only selling 3.2 percent beer, according to City Pages.
Often confused as being 3.2 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), 3.2 beer is a 4 percent ABV brew, with the 3.2 referring to the beer’s alcohol by weight. Which means it is only 0.4 to 0.5 percent weaker than more well-known, big-name brews like Budweiser and Coors.
But the beer’s future is bleak, as fewer taste buds crave this low-alcohol relic from Prohibition days, and brewers are forced to consider cutting back on production due to the state’s craft-beer boom.
And even though the craft-beer realm has its share of low-alcohol beers, the craft beer industry has taken off in Minnesota thanks to fuller flavors, greater variety, and a preference for hops and sours. But the most influential reason for the craft-beer boom is deregulation and tax cuts. As our economist John Phelan wrote in the cover story for the winter 2019 issue of Thinking Minnesota, “Deregulation enabled innovative brewers to enter the market” and “lower excise taxes both incentivized craft brewers to get started and enabled them to retain the capital to grow once they did.” Minnesota ranks 13th nationally for breweries per capita and 10th highest for craft beer consumption.
As the beer bar continues to rise, will Minnesota see its 3.2 beer market fully dry up?