St. Paul brewery closures illustrate why beer law needs to pass

Last week, I wrote about the closure of Tin Whiskers Brewing, one of my old haunts when I lived in Lowertown. Following the closure of Stacked Deck in October, there isn’t much of the once-thriving craft brewing scene left in that part of town. That is a real shame. These are people who have had an idea and given a damn good go. Conservatives, free marketeers, call yourself whatever you like, you ought to support folks like this.

Tin Whiskers was one of the 25 largest breweries in Minnesota, but couldn’t hold on. Axios’ Nick Halter writes:

More breweries are fighting for a smaller piece of the pie, but that’s not the only problem.

Costs are rising for all kinds of materials. Moriarty said his canning costs spiked 127% last year over the span of 12 months. That adds $9 to the costs of producing a case of beer.

COVID restrictions and waves of the virus wiped out or reduced revenue from taprooms and restaurant sales, which are much more profitable than retail sales.

Meanwhile, downtown St. Paul remains quiet as most workers are still at home. Just a few blocks away, Stacked Deck Brewing closed in October.

As I’ve written before, Minnesota’s craft brewing industry has been an economic success story. Now, as these recent closures show, they are facing tougher times. Yet they still face the same outdated laws that have held them back, which include so-called ‘Growler Caps’ and ‘Growler Cap’ and limits on the size of vessels they can sell.

A bill up before the House on Wednesday could help that. SF 3008 would expand growler and other takeaway sales from Minnesota breweries and distilleries. There is no reason to oppose this other than self-interest on the part of liquor retailers. It will come too late to help Tin Whiskers, but with the industry under pressure, it is the obvious thing to do.