Eagan this week became the latest community to hop on the boutique-booze bandwagon, changing ordinances to allow craft breweries and taprooms as well as small-batch distilleries and wineries.
The new rules expand on other changes approved by the City Council last fall to open more parts of town to retail businesses. The latest changes now specifically permit microbreweries and taprooms, clarify distilleries can operate in some industrial districts and allow so-called “farm wineries” in Eagan’s 500-plus acres of agriculturally zoned land.
Eagan’s move is another sign the microbrewery boom has spread beyond the urban core. In the past couple years, several suburbs have adopted new rules opening their doors for microbreweries and taprooms. Often the rules include zoning changes that would allow the brewers to operate not just in industrial zones but also in neighborhood retail strips, business parks and downtown business districts. Some communities, including Eagan, have new rules that would accommodate small distilleries and wineries.
Landing a microbrewery can provide a community with a significant economic boost. Brooklyn Center-based Surly is investing about $20 million to build its second site — a “destination brewery” with a bar and event center in Minneapolis’ Prospect Park area that is scheduled to open this year.
Eagan was one of the cities that courted Surly when it was scouting the Twin Cities market for sites. City planners have said they have been approached by would-be brewers, although no firm proposals have yet surfaced.
Shakopee also approached Surly and later enacted zoning changes to allow small breweries, wineries and distilleries to operate in more parts of the city. At the time, Shakopee officials said they wanted to have their new rules in place so they could respond quickly if a microbrewery plan came along.
The effort paid off in April, when Badger Hill Brewing said it would move from Minnetonka, where it has been sharing facilities with two other microbreweries. Plans call for it to open this fall.