Bill introduced to effectively expand growler sales to all Minnesota breweries

GrowlerSalesLegislation_KDK_2.14.17

A new bill would raise the annual production limits for breweries to acquire off-sale licenses from 20,000 barrels to 250,000 and redefine the size of vessels of beer that a brewery can sell // Photo by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

Bring in a growler to Third Street Brewhouse’s taproom for a refill, and you’ll come away empty-bottled. In August 2016, the Cold Spring, Minnesota–based brewery ceased filling growlers after it crossed the annual production limit of 20,000 barrels imposed by state law.

They joined a growing list of breweries that cannot sell growlers at their locations, including Summit Brewing, August Schell Brewing, Surly Brewing, and most recently Fulton Brewing, who crossed the production threshold in September 2016.

On February 13, however, State Representative Drew Christensen, R-Savage, introduced a bill to increase the amount of barrels a brewery can produce while still being able to sell growlers from 20,000 to 250,000 barrels. This would effectively enable all of Minnesota’s breweries to acquire a license to sell growlers and other vessels at their locations, including even the largest brewer in the state, August Schell Brewing, which produced roughly 138,000 barrels of beer in 2015.

The annual production limit for growler sales was amended once before in July of 2013 when it was raised from 3,500 barrels to the current limit of 20,000 barrels. Rep. Christensen’s proposed amendment would bring the production limit for growler sales in line with the maximum annual production to be able to operate a taproom, which is also 250,000 barrels per year.

“Minnesota’s growing small breweries and brewpubs have been successful at making Minnesota a craft brew hub,” said Rep. Christensen. “Rather than penalizing successful small businesses like Fulton Brewing, we should be encouraging their success and welcoming more of it.”

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In addition to raising the annual production cap to 250,000 for production breweries, the proposed amendment would lift a restriction on brewpubs, which stipulates that they can only sell up to 500 barrels of their 3,500 barrel annual production limit via growlers, and would allow off-sale license holders to sell beer in any vessel containing between 500 milliliters and two liters.

“This law put an unnecessarily restrictive ban on one of Minnesota’s fastest growing industries,” said Rep. Christensen. “Small breweries and brewpubs have brought new jobs to Minnesota and grown our economy. We should remove this restrictive, job-crushing regulation on these small businesses. I am happy to carry this legislation that will allow our small breweries to continue to sell growlers.”

The bill, which currently has four co-sponsors, has been referred to the Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee and is awaiting a hearing.

 
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