One year in, Sunday growler sales have been a big boost for MN breweries


They're a little awkward to carry, but those big, brown jugs of beer are really popular among Minnesota craft beer drinkers.

And since local breweries no longer have to say "no" when someone asks to buy a growler on a Sunday, the 64-ounce bottles have become a big boost to local business.

It became legal to sell growlers on Sundays in Minnesota last year, and now its often the busiest day for someone to come in and buy one.

"It's been great for us," Chris Hahn, co-founder of Day Block Brewing in Minneapolis, told BringMeTheNews. "It's a little advantage to brewpubs because people can't go to liquor stores."

Why are growler sales up?

Hahn said the number of growlers and crowlers (a 32-ounce can) they've sold has gone up 60 percent since Minneapolis began allowing Sunday sales last June.

Part of the increase in Sunday sales can likely be attributed to the convenience factor – if it's Sunday and you feel like drinking beer, there aren't any liquor stores open. So the only place you can buy off-sale beer is a brewery, Tom Whisenand, the co-founder of Indeed Brewing and the president of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, told BringMeTheNews.

But people's desire for fresh local beer right from the source is really what's drawing people into breweries – and while they're there, they grab a growler to take home, Whisenand says.

For Minneapolis-based Fair State Brewing Cooperative, as soon as Sunday sales passed, the brewery saw its overall business on Sundays double – not just from growler sales, but for people who came in for a growler and stayed for a beer or two, Evan Salle, the president and CEO of Fair State, told BringMeTheNews.

Benefits of growlers

Whisenand says for many breweries in the Twin Cities, growlers are a six-figure revenue source, noting, "That's two full-time employees right there."

And for many of the smaller Minnesota breweries (and there are a lot of them), Sunday growler sales have been "huge," Whisenand says. The small breweries usually don't distribute to liquor stores, so visiting the brewery and buying a growler is the only way a person can take the beer home.

Almost every city with a brewery has allowed Sunday growler sales since Gov. Mark Dayton signed the law – Bemidji and Nisswa being the only exceptions, Whisenand says.

Breweries in Duluth, where Sunday growler sales became legal last June, are also benefitting. Bent Paddle Brewing has had to hire two more bartenders on Sundays to keep up with growler sales, KBJR 6 reports. Rochester breweries are also seeing similar growth thanks to Sunday growler sales.

They're here to stay

Whisenand is "amazed" by the popularity of growlers, describing them as "an awkward jug that you have to get filled." But even so, people "are just crazy about it," he said, figuring people prefer growlers because of the connection they have with the brewery itself.

That's why he thinks growlers will continue to grow in popularity – people will continue to seek out a specific brewery and want to bring home that specific beer.

Whisenand does think there will be some changes in the industry going forward. Those smaller breweries that are only selling their beers in growlers will likely start packaging their beer in more traditional ways (think bottles and cans).

"Craft beer only continues to grow – this is not a fad," Whisenand says, adding once people give craft beer a shot, "there's no turning back."

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