USA: Minnesota beer law punishes successful breweries

A strict beer law is punishing successful breweries in Minnesota when they pass the annual production mark of 20,000 beer barrels (approx. 23.500 hl). The law requires to cease the sale of growlers which are typically 64-ounce, refillable beer jugs that are sold directly at the brewery or its taproom.

The law, which prohibits all breweries in the state from selling beer to-go – with the exception of the growlers for smaller breweries – is a remains of the so-called "three-tiered system" and is supposed to limit the power of major alcohol producers in regards to distributors, and retailers.

However, with the current blossoming of craft breweries it is now limiting their ability to grow to a decent size to compete against national breweries. Since this sales cap is arbitrary and has no public health justification, there was an attempt earlier this year to change the law. As retailers and distributors feared a loss of sales, the initiative to allow breweries to sell growlers up to an overall production of 40,000 gallons (approx. 47,000 hl) of beer annually was instantly defeated.

Castle Danger Brewing, founded in 2011 in Castle Danger, MN, on the North Shore of Lake Superior, which has since its beginnings rapidly grown to achieve a statewide distribution, will soon be one of the first victims of the beer law. Because the brewery will soon hit the 20,000-gallon threshold it announced on Facebook that “September 30, 2019 is the last day you can buy and/or fill a Castle Danger Growler.”

Madeline Stewart, marketing and events manager at Castle Danger Brewery told the Duluth News Tribune that growlers make up around 30 percent of all taproom sales. To compensate for this loss, the brewery will eliminate one full-time position and a handful of part-time positions, she said.

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