MN Breweries Are (Still) Dumping Beer Due to Antiquated Laws
With a new year here, the fight to #FreeTheGrowler is being renewed.
Last month, several Minnesota politicians and advocates for Minnesota craft breweries were on site at Lift Bridge Brewing Co. in Stillwater to watch as beer was dumped down a drain due to stifling liquor laws.
"I stopped by @LiftBridge yesterday with 3 other legislators," wrote Minnesota representative Jim Nash (R) on Twitter. "We watched the owner dump beer because there’s no way to sell it in his own state. In surrounding states laws have been written to help, we have so much work to do here in MN."
Nash is referring to Minnesota's growler cap law, which restricts breweries that produce 20,000 barrels or more of beer a year from selling beer in 64oz containers (commonly known as growlers). Proponents of the law believe that the law is there to help small breweries and retailers as well as the current distribution system. Opponents of the growler cap, meanwhile, argue that limitation prevents growth of Minnesota's succeeding businesses, forcing a brewery to choose between remaining under the 20,000 barrel limit and being able to sell growlers or producing beyond the 20,000 barrel limit and not being able to sell growlers. Castle Danger Brewery -- one of the breweries that has surpassed the 20,000 barrel limit -- said that they saw an immediate 30% decrease in taproom sales, reports The Gazette. The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild has previously said that the loss of growler sales can cost a brewery upwards of $300,000.
Besides Castle Danger Brewery (which had to stop selling growlers in October 2019), other Minnesota breweries to have also hit the the growler cap are Fulton, Schell's, Surly and Summit, with others -- including Minneapolis' Indeed Brewing Co. -- nearing the cap. Heading into 2021, all but Summit have formed an alliance to campaign #FreeTheGrowler and push state lawmakers to repeal the growler cap law.
Besides the current growler cap, Minnesota liquor laws also prevent breweries from selling their product in 12oz and 16 oz containers from the taproom. Minnesota is the only state in the country that still holds this law. Last April, as the first wave of COVID-19 hit Minnesota and the state went into its first lockdown, Minneapolis' Bauhaus Brew Labs was also forced to dump beer they were unable to sell from their taprooms.