Surly suspends its annual Darkness Day festival ... until the law changes

The Northeast brewery has said the 2020 celebration will not be going ahead.
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Surly Brewing Co. has announced that the festival celebrating the release of its Russian imperial stout, otherwise known as Darkness Day, will not go ahead in 2020.

The annual event marking the launch of its Darkness beer was moved to Somerset, Wisconsin, last year as the event had outgrown its Brooklyn Center brewery.

But in a message on its Facebook page, founder Omar Ansari said that holding the event in Somerset "made it very apparent that this event needs to happen here in Minnesota."

However, Surly says they're not able to hold the event in Minnesota due to the state law that prohibits breweries from selling growlers if they produce more than 20,000 barrels of beer a year.

Surly has joined the breweries backing the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild's plans for a loosening of those restrictions. Instead of limiting growlers based on the size of the brewery, it would impose a limit on the number that can be sold to a single customer on a given day.

"Put plainly: We want to sell Darkness bottles for you to take home from the Destination Brewery," Ansari writes. "Once we can, Darkness Day will return to Minnesota at our Destination Brewery."

A bill has been proposed this week that doesn't exactly promise what Surly wants with regards to growlers, but instead would double the cap on production from 20,000 to 40,000 barrels.

Breweries including Castle Danger – which fell foul of the 20,000 limit last year for the first time – have been calling for change.

Surly, which has more than 100,000 followers on Facebook, is hoping to repeat the success it had in 2011, when the Legislature passed what was known as the "Surly Bill" allowing breweries to sell alcohol on site, which in turn led to an explosion in craft beer halls and distilleries across the state.

"Surly Nation changed the law before," Ansari wrote. "It’s time to do it again."

"Even with change, some traditions will remain: We’ll keep brewing Darkness, a local artist will design the bottles, you’ll find Darkness in local liquor stores, and we’ll continue to raise a toast with all of you."

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