Moorhead breweries have mixed reactions to 'Free the Growler' law

Swing Barrel Brewery sees the new law as helpful for the business, while Junkyard Brewing Company has some concerns.

Junkyard Brewing Company
Junkyard Brewing Company's canning line.
Mike McGurran / WDAY News

MOORHEAD — Local breweries are calling Minnesota's new "Free the Growler" law a mixed bag. Governor Tim Walz signed the bill Sunday, expanding off-sale options for breweries and distilleries in the state over the weekend. The law took affect Monday.

Breweries like Swing Barrel Brewing Company's only off-sale options used to be crowlers, which hold a little over 25 ounces of beer. With the new law, they'll be able to expand what they offer to customers.

"It gives us the ability to sell our beer in different size containers, and in four or six packs," said Sean Syverson, one of the brewery's co-owners.

Syverson said only being able to sell 25 ounce crowlers causes some confusion with customers not interested in purchasing such a large can.

"I've probably lost a year of my life answering that question, 'why are your cans so big,'" said Syverson.


He sees it as a positive. Customers get more choices, and he has more options for selling his beer.

Just a short ways away, Junkyard Brewery owner Aaron Juhnke has also been keeping tabs on the new law. He has mixed feelings on the changes.

"It's a little early to say if it's gonna affect the way we do business, because we have some concerns with the new law," said Juhnke.

One concern? He doesn't understand why the law limits certain cans and not others. He can only sell two four-packs of 16-ounce beers to one person per day, but there's no limits per person on the much larger crowlers Junkyard already sells.

He's also concerned that it might affect how they handle distribution. The law says off-sale liquor must be made available for sale by a malt liquor wholesaler. Junkyard Brewing handles their own distribution, and Juhnke wants to keep it that way.

And it's not lost on either owner that breweries across the river don't face restrictions like this.

"It's weird for people to cross the river and try and understand why they have to do it this way here versus that way," said Syverson.

For now, both breweries say it'll take a little time to fully expand their off-sale options.

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