Minneapolis and Duluth breweries and brewpubs opened their doors Sunday to a steady stream of eager customers celebrating the fact that they can legally buy and take home growlers of beer.

In another change to state liquor law, restaurants were able to sell alcohol to customers on Sunday beginning at 8 a.m., two hours earlier than previously.

Some early risers at Freehouse, a North Loop brewpub, welcomed the change, ordering cocktails and beer well ahead of 10 a.m.

Stephanie Menning wore a red shirt that read “Sunday Funday” above two clinking glasses of beer.

“A perfect day to wear it,” Menning said of her shirt. Menning and her husband, Doug, woke up to the news and decided to participate immediately. “So I woke up and threw on this shirt,” she said.

By 9 a.m. the Mennings each had their alcoholic beverage in hand. She had a screwdriver and he a craft beer.

“It was hugely different. Now we have a lot more day to use,” said Menning, of south Minneapolis. “It was perfect.”

At Indeed Brewing in northeast Minneapolis, enthusiasts lined up with their 64-ounce refillable beer jugs.

Bob Hollister, of Columbia Heights, said he refilled his growler because “now I can. It’s ridiculous we couldn’t before,” he said.

In early June, Minneapolis city leaders overwhelmingly approved a measure allowing the sale of growlers and changing hours of sale on Sundays. The council’s vote came after a new state law allowed cities to decide whether to allow Sunday growler sales. Other provisions in the state law include the “Bloody Mary Bill,” which allows 8 a.m. alcohol sales from bars and restaurants on Sundays.

No liquor store sales

Despite the changes, liquor stores still cannot sell alcohol on Sundays, a fact that left advocates of statewide sales feeling bittersweet.

The new law is “as small a consolation as one could get,” said Andrew Schmitt, director of Minnesota Beer Activists. “It’s better than nothing, right?”

Throughout Minneapolis, however, beer drinkers were especially keen on taking their growlers outside. The jug of local brew was a perfect accessory to the warm weather.

Liz Belk, assistant taproom manager at Indeed, estimated she sold about 35 growlers in the first few hours after opening at noon Sunday.

“One guy came in and said we ‘saved his day,’ ” she said. The customer forgot to buy beer on Saturday, and was able to pick up a few growlers before his afternoon barbecue.

“He said it would have been a dry barbecue,” Belk said.

The Growler, a website and magazine, listed 18 Minneapolis breweries and taprooms that were open for Sunday growler sales.

At Harriet Brewing in south Minneapolis, bartender Peter Gens said people were stopping by all week asking about the new growler sales.

Gens said Harriet Brewing plans to have more events, such as live music, on Sunday. “People want quality brew on Sunday, and [growler sales] are just an added perk,” Gens said.

Sunday growler sales at area taprooms and brewpubs was “slow and steady,” according to CJ Hodges, bartender at Fulton Brewery in the North Loop.

Canal Park Brewing Co. in Duluth and Fulton Brewery were pouring growlers, but it was about the same flow as on other days of the week.

“The fanfare is out right now, and lots of locals are coming to buy them,” said Richard Selz, general manager at Canal Park. The brewery sells about 40 to 50 growlers a day, Selz said.

However, when Sunday growler sales debuted in Rochester May 28, one craft brewery underestimated the buzz.

Ryan White, taproom manager at Kinney Creek Brewery, said they didn’t expect how many people would buy growlers that first day. Rochester was among the first three cities to allow Sunday growler sales.

“I was here by myself that day,” White said. “I actually had a couple regulars, who are friends of the owner, helping me so I could keep up.” White sold 60 growlers.

‘People want a wholesale change’

Although Belk of Indeed is happy about the growler sales, she also wants to be respectful to liquor stores and other business who are still left out on Sunday.

The new law accommodates a “very small segment of the population, people who are close enough to breweries they like and want to patronize,” Schmitt said. “It’s a little disheartening to see one little baby step forward when people want a wholesale change.”

About a dozen breweries in 11 Minnesota cities, including Rochester and Shakopee, already launched Sunday growler sales. St. Paul sales are expected to start Sun., July 5.