A border-crossing beer run has landed two Maple Grove bar managers in a heap of legal trouble.
In an unusual bust, undercover state investigators caught Maple Tavern illegally selling a beloved Wisconsin beer in April. The bar had tapped kegs of New Glarus Spotted Cow, a farmhouse ale that can only be sold in Wisconsin — a felony offense.
Maple Tavern owner Brandon Hlavka, 37, of St. Michael, and manager David Lantos, 28, of Brooklyn Park, were each charged Thursday with a single felony of transporting alcohol into Minnesota for resale.
Beer manufactured by New Glarus is distributed only in Wisconsin. The company is not a licensed manufacturer of alcoholic beverages in Minnesota, so it’s illegal to distribute New Glarus beer to a retail establishment. Neither the bar’s manager nor Maple Tavern are licensed to transport or import the alcoholic beverage into Minnesota.
The Wisconsin Department of Revenue received an anonymous tip about the alcohol-related crime and contacted Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety, according to the criminal complaint. Undercover officers visited the bar on April 13, ordered Spotted Cow from the tap and secretly tested the beer, which proved stronger than 3.2 percent alcohol.
Hlavka and Lantos told investigators they wanted to sell microbrews and knew they couldn’t acquire the beer from Minnesota distributors, so decided to make a run to the neighboring state, court documents show.
The men will make their first court appearance on March 2.
Maple Tavern has since been granted a new liquor license.