Minnesota Moves To Free The Growler

, Minnesota Moves To Free The Growler

(Courtesy Alliance of Minnesota Craft Breweries)

On May 11 the Minnesota House approved a proposal that would mark the most significant change to the state’s liquor laws since allowing Sunday beer sales in 2017.

The bill, which still has to make its way through the Minnesota Senate, will allow the state’s smaller breweries to sell four- and six-packs of beer to-go. Currently, small craft breweries can only sell 64 oz. growlers and 25.4 oz. crowlers.

The bill also “frees the growler,” lifting a production cap from 20,000 barrels to 150,000 barrels so the state’s largest breweries can sell growlers on-site.

, Minnesota Moves To Free The GrowlerAs things stand now only five Minnesota breweries, including Surly and Summit, produce more than 20,000 barrels annually and as a result can’t sell beer to-go in any configuration.

The existing Minnesota law which allows smaller breweries to produce up to 20,000 barrels of craft beer while selling growlers out of their taprooms has forced larger breweries like Castle Danger Brewing to choose between growth and the ability to sell growler fills at their taproom, sales that contribute significantly to the brewery’s profits.

Based near Lake Superior in Two Harbors, Minnesota, Castle Danger Brewery, has been named the best brewery by the Minneapolis Star Tribune for two years running. The law  forced the brewery to stop selling growlers to it many fans once it hit that 20,000 barrel limit which it did in 2019.

In an effort to end this madness Castle Danger launched Save the Growler, a grassroots campaign aimed at building support for a change in the law.

And according to the Duluth News Tribune that campaign immediately amassed more than 10,000 signatures advocating for a production cap increase that would allow breweries such a Castle Danger to grow and still sell beer directly to consumers.

Reason argued persuasively at the time 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.”

, Minnesota Moves To Free The Growler“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

The good news is that the multi-year effort to ‘free the growler’ has real momentum having passed in the Minnesota House 85-48.

But the bill still needs to pass the Senate, where its fate is unclear.

Jamie MacFarlane, chief financial officer at Castle Danger Brewing told CBS 4 that she was “cautiously optimistic” that the brewery would soon be able to sell growlers again at her taproom, something the company hasn’t been able to do for almost four years.


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