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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signs liquor bill, 'Free the Growler' plan into law

The proposal would let the state's biggest breweries sell growlers from their taprooms and allow smaller breweries to sell four and six-packs of beer.

File: Castle Danger growlers
Castle Danger Brewery in Two Harbors fills growlers in 2019. (Tyler Schank / 2019 file / News Tribune)
Photo by Tyler Schank
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ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz on Sunday, May 22, signed into law a set of revisions to the state's liquor laws, including raising the cap that breweries can produce each year while still being able to sell to-go options like beer growlers from their taprooms.

Both chambers of the Legislature on Friday passed the plan to let breweries that produced up to 150,000 barrels a year offer growler sales, up from the current 20,000-barrel cap.

The state's six largest craft breweries — Castle Danger, Fulton, Indeed, Lift Bridge, Schell's and Surly — were blocked from selling growlers under the cap. And the owners of Lift Bridge last year added a brewery in Wisconsin so they could produce more beer while not hitting Minnesota's barrel cap.

Under the law, smaller and medium-sized breweries will be able to sell four and six-packs from their taprooms. And it would allow micro-distilleries to increase the number of off-sale products they can offer and allow town ball baseball teams to sell alcoholic beverages. Resorts would also have the option to sell beer with an alcohol content higher than 3.2%. But 3.2% will remain the standard for grocery stores and convenience stores.

After years of gridlock, stakeholders including craft beverage producers, wholesalers, liquor retailers and Teamsters came together earlier this year to consider changes to the state's liquor laws. And they ultimately struck an agreement that picked up support at the Capitol.

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“I am proud to live in a state with so many locally owned breweries and distilleries,” Walz said in a news release. “Every Minnesota business — big or small — deserves the opportunity to succeed. The pandemic has pushed us to think creatively when it comes to the food and beverage industry, and this bill provides more opportunities for these businesses to thrive. This bill is one way we can support Minnesota’s local breweries and distilleries.”

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Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email  dferguson@forumcomm.com.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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