Momentum is building behind a bill that would deregulate growler sales in Minnesota. A “growler” is a 64oz reusable container that beer fans use to take home draft beer from their favorite breweries. Currently in Minnesota breweries that produce over 20,000 barrels per Year are restricted from using these industry-standard beer-to-go containers.
Representative Jim Nash sponsored H.F. 1050/S.F. 874, which would end the restriction on big breweries selling growlers. Representative Nash recently stated “It’s finally time to ‘Free the Growler’ and stop punishing five successful breweries in our state while removing a hurdle many growing breweries may face in the coming years”, Representative Nash is optimistic about the bills future, “Beer is bipartisan and we will have bipartisan support on our proposal in the House and Senate. We need lawmakers to overcome the resistance to change that has kept Minnesota’s liquor laws stuck in the 1940s.””
As craft beer continues to grow and establish a permanent foot hold in the market, many states have a game of catch up to play in terms of modernizing their laws to better reflect the current realities of the beer market. Industries can change significantly quicker than the laws governing them can. State by state quirks and out dated laws stifle the beer market, such as in Massachusetts where breweries are only allowed to fill growlers that they manufactured. In California the laws were the same as Massachusetts, until a recent reform which allowed customers to merely display a sticker of the brewery on the growler instead of requiring a custom receptacle just for that establishment.
Brewery owners argue that the restriction dis-incentivizes breweries to expand and hurts the industry as a whole. Jim Diley, The co-founder of Fulton Beer said “Year after Year, we’ve come back and have not seen success in moving that cap…. The bottom line is we are a family-run, locally-owned group of breweries that are seeking commonsense change.”
Supporters of this type of legislation should look at COVID as an opportunity to modernize laws governing alcohol sales. Rep Jim Nash is rallying support in his state to get rid of these obtuse restrictions. Eliminating arbitrary hoops that small businesses must jump through is a far better strategy for economic recovery than more government handouts. Breweries and small businesses across the country have been some of the hardest hit by the economic complications caused by COVID. This legislation will only serve to aid their recovery.