Growler caps may be no more for larger Minnesota breweries.
A bipartisan legislative agreement announced Thursday would reconcile the differences between liquor bills in the Minnesota House and Senate.
This would raise the cap on the state's six largest breweries — Lift Bridge, Schell's, Castle Danger, Surly, Summit and Fulton — that has kept them from selling growlers and other containers directly to the consumers to take home.
The new rule would extend to breweries that produce 150,000 barrels of beer per year, up from the existing 20,000-barrel limit.
Out of over 8,000 breweries in the United States, the six aforementioned breweries are the only ones in the country that can't sell beer to-go directly to the consumer. This is according to the Alliance of Minnesota Craft Breweries, a group that has pushed for change in the industry.
The agreement would also allow smaller breweries to sell up to 128 ounces of beer per customer each day, and allow distilleries to sell cocktails directly to consumers and operate a cocktail room.
The bill is sponsored by House Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids) and Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls). It was approved with a 10-0 vote by joint House Senate conference committee members Thursday, though still has to pass the full legislature before the current session adjourns on Monday.
According to the bill, it also addresses a previous issue with the Coleman Act that "prohibits exclusive contracts in the sale of hard spirits by treating in-state and out-of-state manufacturers similarly." The provision is included in both the House and Senate versions.
The Senate's version is a bit more limited in comparison to the House's proposals, which include:
- Expanded off-sale options to very small breweries
- Cocktail rooms at all distilleries
- Sales of wine and beer at town ball games
One item left out of the proposals is the establishment of a liquor regulation advisory council. The goal was to have a body made up of equal members of wholesalers, retailers and producers to advise the Legislature on changes to liquor laws.
Another provision discarded would have allowed residents to have looser restrictions on the amount of wine that can be shipped; the wine would have also been taxed in relation to wine purchased in the state. Another provision that would allow 17 year olds to serve liquor was also denied, according to the Senate.
Other provisions that were included in the final version would allow the following:
- Cities and counties can issued seven-day temporary liquor licenses for county fairs.
- Extend hours for alcohol sales during live World Cup matches.
- Special on-sale liquor licenses for events in Willmar, Sauk Rapids, St. Paul, Rochester, Alexandria and St. Cloud.
- Anoka County can create an outdoor social district where consumption of alcohol would be permitted.