The Minnesota brewery community may be one step closer to another victory in the legislature. Save The Growler announced on Friday that “bills have been included in committee and barring any unforeseen circumstances, we will raise the limit from 3,500 to 20,000 barrels!”
A growler is described in the bill as a 64 oz. bottle with a twist-off top, cork or plug. Growlers can be filled with beer and sold to consumers on location at small breweries. Under existing law, breweries producing more than 3,500 barrels per year are prohibited from filling and selling growlers to customers.
I spoke with Dan Schwarz from Lift Bridge Brewery in Stillwater about the growler rules and how they affect small breweries like his. He admitted his brewery had grown much faster than planned. The barrel limit poses a potential negative outcome to his success. While not a main revenue stream, growlers are popular with beer fans and help grow the beer community.
In January, Schwarz and other small local brewers formed the Board of Minnesota Breweries to help deal with various legal issues, and more specifically, formed the Save The Growler group to tackle the most recent growler concerns. Part of their strategy includes reaching out to liquor retailers and distributors who might otherwise see on-site sales as a threat to their business and convincing them that as the beer community grows, so does consumer demand in retail locations.
After working with Senator Sandy Pappas and Representative Raymond Dehn this year, it looks like their bill has been included in the upcoming liquor omnibus package. With a little luck, the bill should pass, substantially raising the growler limit and the already explosive growth of this Minnesota cottage industry.