Minnesota lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday that would aim to provide some relief to the state’s struggling breweries and distilleries.
The bill, authored by Rep. Liz Olson (DFL – Duluth) and Rep. Sydney Jordan (DFL – Minneapolis), would allow breweries to sell a six pack of 12 oz. containers or a four pack of 16 oz. containers for takeout orders. Distilleries could sell a 750mL bottle or two 375mL bottles.
The bill comes as the Legislature’s initial bipartisan alcohol takeout bill permitted restaurants and bars to sell up to a six pack of beer and a bottle of wine with takeout during the COVID-19 pandemic. That legislation did not include breweries and distilleries.
“Minnesota distilleries and breweries make a big difference on jobs, agriculture and tourism in the state, but without access to market many small businesses, including our own, will not be able to survive,” said said Joel Vikre, owner of Vikre Distillery in Duluth in a press release.
The recently-enacted law also only allows alcohol takeout sales for the extent of the state’s stay-at-home order. This bill would also extend that time period for an additional 60 days after the order is lifted.
Breweries are currently only permitted to sell larger growlers and crowlers for to-go orders. With profits dwindling, up to half of Minnesota breweries could close in the next six months under current circumstances.
“We have been forced to pivot to curbside options in order to keep our amazing staff employed and our business afloat. This bill, allowing us to sell 4-packs direct to consumers, would be a huge help to us and our efforts to keep business going and our amazing team working,” said Ben Hugus, owner of Ursa Minor Brewing in Duluth.
While breweries push to be able to sell more of their product directly out of their taprooms, some have seen their sales in liquor stores decline, with Foxhole Brewhouse in Willmar having stopped selling in stores altogether, per the Star Tribune.
The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild has repeatedly pushed for coronavirus relief for breweries, including expanding takeout sale options.