Taprooms can't serve cocktails – this booze-maker is trying to change that

There's a Kickstarter campaign to hire a lobbyist.
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Right now, booze-makers can't serve beer and hard liquor in the same room. Bent Brewstillery is trying to change that.

The brewery-distillery (it makes both beer and alcohol) is the only one of its kind in Minnesota, and one of just a handful nationally. But it only serves beer in its taproom because of that state law.

Bent Brewstillery wants people to be able to have a cocktail or a beer in its Roseville taproom (or what it hopes will be a tap-tail room).

So Bartley Blume, the owner of Bent Brewstillery, launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to hire a lobbyist, who will go to the state Capitol to help get a brewstillery tap-tail bill started.

The goal is to raise $25,000 by Jan. 25. As of Friday morning, the campaign had raised $2,323.

Bent Brewstillery says there's another way you can help change state law: Call or write your state representative. All you have to do is click here and type in your zip code to find your representative's contact information.

It won't be easy

But changing Minnesota liquor laws isn't easy, and it's been very slow – it can take years of arguing at the Capitol to get something passed.

The state has a powerful liquor lobby, the group Why Not Sundays explains, that fights to keep antiquated laws unchanged (it's one of the reasons liquor stores in the state still can't sell booze on Sundays, and it's become a perennial issue in the state legislature).

Blume wrote on the Kickstarter page that tap-tail rooms should be legal because it will only help Minnesota's liquor industry, saying when someone tries a drink in a cocktail room, they often seek it out in bars, restaurants and liquor stores.

"We noticed this phenomenon first hand with our beer. Once our taproom opened, demand for our beer grew exponentially," Blume wrote, adding that this will help his business – and any brewstillery to come later.

Lobbyists have told him it's not impossible to get done, but there's no guarantee his efforts to change the law will be successful, the Kickstarter page notes.

Possible liquor law changes this year

In addition to Blume hoping to get a tap-tail room bill off the ground, there are a few other liquor law changes that may get brought up during the 2017 Legislature, Jeffrey C. O'Brien, a craft beverage attorney in the Twin Cities, wrote in a blog on Minnesota Lawyer.

They are: Allowing cocktail rooms to be open on Sundays like breweries are; allowing taprooms for cideries specifically; and, obviously, Sunday liquor sales, which House Speaker Kurt Daudt already said will pass the House.

At least three alcohol-related bills have been introduced this session:

  • One that would require 3.2 percent beers to be labeled on the can's top as well as on the side.
  • A bill that would allow cities to choose whether to allow an off-sale or municipal liquor store to sell booze on any day of the week, so long as it's not sold before 8 a.m. or after 10 p.m.
  • A bill that would change state law to allow Sunday liquor sales altogether.

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