Cheers to passage of the 'Surly bill'

  • Updated: May 30, 2011 - 8:30 PM

'Destination brewery' bill will create jobs in Minnesota.


Surly beer

Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

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Partisan gridlock, no major job-creating legislation and an impending state government shutdown are enough to make many Minnesotans cry in their beer.

Well, at least they'll soon have some more beer options after Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill that will allow brewers that produce fewer than 250,000 barrels a year (sorry, Budweiser) to sell pints of beer at their own "destination breweries" in Minnesota.

The legislation was commonly called the "Surly bill" because it will allow the Brooklyn Center-based company to build a brewery and event center, which would serve Surly products, but no wine or spirits. Beer would not be sold to take home, thus preserving the so-called "three-tiered system" that separates manufacturing, distribution and retailing.

Worries over disrupting the three tiers initially led the powerful Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association to wage a misguided fight against the proposal. But eventually the association saw the wisdom in allowing what so many other states already do and softened its opposition.

Now Surly can get to the fun part: Choosing a site to build the brewery, which it estimates will cost $20 million. Up to 150 people would be hired to work in the brewery, bar and restaurant, and as many as 85 construction jobs would be created.

And Surly isn't the only brewery that will hire more Minnesotans, as other brewers backing the bill have their own expansion ambitions.

Credit for this rare legislative success goes to the bipartisan efforts of Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, and Sen. Linda Scheid, DFL-Brooklyn Park. They did what elected officials are supposed to do: Collaborate, cooperate and create better conditions to grow jobs in Minnesota.

Of course, they got a push from people whom Surly President Omar Ansari dubbed "Surly nation." Many used social media to prod legislators to approve the legislation.

So cheers, not only to Minnesota brewers, but to an example of how involved voters, listening legislators and old-fashioned common sense can create jobs in Minnesota.


    "The key to getting this done was support from our legislative authors -- Jennifer Loon and Linda Scheid -- as well as the support of the public, craft beer fans, business fans, and fans of Minnesota."

    OMAR ANSARI, president, Surly Brewing Co.

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