Support the #DrinkLocalMN bill

On Monday morning, representatives of Minnesota’s craft breweries, distilleries, and wineries gathered at the state capitol to urge legislators to pass the ‘Drink Local Economic Recovery Package’, SF 1176 and HF 1192.

Minnesota’s craft brewers have been an economic success story in the last decade, but they have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and government response. According to the Minnesota Craft Beverage Council:

The Drink Local Economic Recovery Act will:
  • Allow all breweries to sell beer to-go in cans, bottles, and growlers up to 64oz, with a per person/day purchase limit of 768oz (and an annual limit of 750 bbls)
  • Allow brewpubs to distribute up to 200 barrels of their own product
  • Allow cideries to have more access to the market through up to 75,000 gallons of self-distribution
  • Create more standard taxation for cideries/wineries to align with federal statute
  • Allow distilleries to sell up to 1.5 liters per person/day
  • Allow bars and restaurants to permanently sell limited amounts of beer (72oz), wine (1 bottle), and cocktails (34oz) to go with take-out orders
  • Allow liquor stores & bars/restaurant to fill growlers
How will these changes help?
  • Put 100,000+ food & beverage workers who were furloughed and laid-off due to the pandemic back in their jobs
  • Allow these small/family-owned businesses to recover faster
  • Support economic recovery throughout the state through increased sales tax revenue, increased tourism, and an increase in employment for this year and years to come
  • Move Minnesota out of last place when it comes to liquor laws

One of the key features is removal of the ‘Growler cap‘ which prohibits a brewery from selling growlers — beer in half-gallon, reusable containers — if the brewer produces more than 20,000 barrels of beer annually. This can present successful breweries with the choice of either ceasing to expand or ditching grower sales, which are a significant source of revenue for some of these breweries. Or they can just move to states with more sensible laws, as Lift Bridge is doing.

The Star Tribune reports:

Distributors, liquor stores and bars oppose the change. They say it provides an unfair advantage to the makers of some of their best-selling beers.

Quite why it is ‘unfair’ for a producer to sell their product direct to a consumer is left unexplained.

These breweries, distilleries, and wineries are not asking for government hand outs. They are simply asking for government to remove outdated legislation which exists to protect insiders so that they can continue to flourish even in these hard times. If you believe in a free market and the American Dream, you should support the #DrinkLocalMN bill.

Click here to ask your legislators for support.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.