A Loring Park neighborhood taproom announced Monday that it is the first dining or drinking establishment in Minnesota to legally allow dogs indoors, winning a permanent exemption from regulators by agreeing to various rules to avoid running afoul of state health codes.

Lakes & Legends, located east of Loring Park on LaSalle Avenue, said it worked for months with City Council Member Lisa Goodman and Daniel Huff, Minneapolis environmental health director, to be granted the variance and is now "excited to welcome dogs of all sizes into the taproom."

Many taprooms around Minneapolis had been allowing dog owners to bring their four-legged friends along while grabbing a drink. State health codes, however, deemed the practice illegal and a health risk.

In January, the City Council directed staff to work with the state Department of Health to find a safe way for dogs to visit taprooms by June without trying to get the state health code changed.

Bringing dogs into places such as breweries is a state violation because water used in making beer is considered food, according to Goodman, who in 2008 persuaded legislators to allow dogs at sidewalk cafes and other outdoor dining setups.

"Dogs are pretty low risk" to the health of taproom patrons and employees, said Huff, who added that his city is Minnesota's first to start handing out the variances.

Lakes & Legends CEO Ethan Applen said Tuesday that inquiries about allowing dogs indoors "was probably our most common call. … That's what kind of spurred us. And I am a dog owner and dog lover."

Applen said the taproom's neighborhood has "just a ton of dogs. … People like to go out and walk their dogs and stop in for a beer."

He said the taproom is big enough to accommodate "people who don't want to be near dogs."

As for keeping things calm in the taproom with the legal welcoming of nonhumans, Applen said he's more concerned about patrons who might get rowdy "after enough beers. The dogs aren't drinking."

In celebration of this new leash on life for its patrons' pooches, Lakes & Legends is hosting a "Yappy Hour" on Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m., when prices will be cut on selected beers and dog treats will be available.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482