Castle Danger Brewery The Latest Victim of Minnesota Beer Law

Brewery growth in Minnesota is being hindered by an outdated law that caps brewery production at 20,000 barrels if they want to continue selling growler-fills to their fans.

Here’s the deal…

A Minnesota law that allows breweries to produce up to 20,000 barrels of craft beer while selling growlers out of their taprooms, is causing successful breweries like Castle Danger Brewing to choose between growth and the ability to sell growler fills at their taproom, sales that reportedly make up 30% of its profits.

Based near Lake Superior in Two Harbors, Minnesota, Castle Danger Brewery, has been named the best brewery in the state for two years running by Minneapolis Star Tribune readers. And it’s a beer mecca for many willing to travel more than two hours north of the Twin Cities to fill their growlers with its award-winning beers…

But that sort of success comes with a downside. Castle Danger has announced that will hit the 20,000-gallon threshold soon and will stop selling growlers on October 1.

In a September 30  Facebook post, announcing that the brewery would no longer be offering taproom growler fills, they also took the opportunity to launch Save the Growler, a grassroots campaign aimed at building support for a change in the law.

And it’s not like there hasn’t already been efforts to help Minnesota’s small and independent brewers who benefit significantly by being able to sell growler-fills from their taproom….

Earlier this year some Minnesota lawmakers floated a bill that would raise the production and allow for growler-fills as long as breweries produced less than 40,000 gallons of beer annually. But the state’s powerful distribution lobby, which contribute heavily to many influential state legislators, effectively put that effort to bed.

Reason argues persuasively as to the ridiculousness of Minnesota’s current beer law…

“Why should a successful brewery be banned from selling beer in certain containers? There’s no public health justification for saying that it’s OK for a brewery to sell 64-ounce bottles of beer to the public as long as the brewery makes 19,999 gallons of beer each year, but that a brewery producing 20,001 gallons of beer shouldn’t be allowed to do the same.”

“It’s all about the political power of beer distributors and liquor stores. Once a brewery hits the 20,000-gallon threshold, the only way to get its beer to the public (aside from what might be served in glasses at the brewery’s taphouse) is to contract with a distributor.”

“In practice, the rule is a way to guarantee distributors get a piece of the action, but it also unfairly punishes breweries for doing nothing more than increasing production to meet the demand for their products.”

American Craft Beer couldn’t have said it better…and laws like this need to be changed.

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