Occupation: Minneapolis City Councilmember
Growler: You’ve been very involved in the beer ordinance changes. Tell us a bit about that.
GS: [I wrote the bill] Brew Beer Here, resulting in microbreweries being allowed to open in the city, the first modern breweries since Prohibition. Previously we allowed you to make beer if you also operated a restaurant, in which case 60 percent of sales had to be food.
G: And you also worked on an issue with Dangerous Man Brewing Co.?
GS: Yes. Dangerous Man dusted off their business proposal, found the space, got the financing for the equipment, pulled a license, and the city said no. You can’t make beer across from a church. So we introduced a rule that would separate the church from the state in regards to beer manufacturing in Minneapolis and that passed. It wasn’t unanimous, but it passed. And now Dangerous Man is open.
G: What still needs to be done?
GS: Next, this summer I’m sponsoring the 50/50 rule that will make it easier for small restaurants that sell craft beer. The 60/40 rule was written in the 80s, before the craft beer market took off, when you could get a beer for a buck fifty. So it was a lot easier back then for small businesses to ensure that 60 percent of their sales were still in food. These days, with craft beer being more popular and people being willing to spend more on a quality product, it puts a lot of small business owners at risk for not having their license renewed. If we don’t change this rule, we’re either going to force some small businesses to close or we’re going to discourage them from offering quality beers. Neither one is in our interest.
G: Do you support Sunday sales?
GS: Absolutely, I support Sunday sales.
G: Any favorite beers?
GS: The irony of all my work for the local beer industry is that I don’t drink beer. I’m gluten-free, so I’m still looking for the best gluten-free local beer. Someone’s starting a gluten-free brewery in St. Paul. I’ll still try them, though.