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"Surly bill" clears House and Senate

  • Blog Post by: Eric Roper
  • May 13, 2011 - 2:38 PM

The Minnesota Senate approved legislation Friday that would allow Surly Brewing Co. to sell pints of their beer at a proposed $20 million "destination brewery."

The measure cleared the Senate on a unanimous vote after moving through the House earlier this week.

Brewers are not currently allowed to serve pints of their own beer at breweries because of Minnesota's "three-tier" system that strictly separates the roles of liquor manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

The bill changes the law for all Minnesota brewers, though it was prompted by Surly's plans to expand their brewery in Brooklyn Center. It is not clear yet where their new brewery will be located.

The state's powerful liquor lobby (led by the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association) initially fought vigorously against the bill in order to preserve the three-tier system. They eventually agreed to new language that would prevent national brewers (Coors, etc.) from opening up destination breweries in Minnesota.

An MLBA lobbyist said at a hearing last month that they "may not ever be entirely comfortable with this legislation," but they are happy with the changes.

The House and Senate bills must now be resolved before they are sent to the governor. Given the near-unanimous bipartisan support in both chambers, it is fairly likely he will sign.

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